Irish retailers are losing out on a potential €4.5 billion in online consumer spending each year according to research carried out on behalf of Virgin Media by Amárach. Irish consumers currently spend €7.5 billion online every year but Irish retailers’ share of this is just 40 % with €4.5 billion being allowed to go abroad as a result.

“The picture could actually worsen in the coming years with the Virgin Media Digital Insights Report pointing to a doubling in online consumer spending by 2021. By that stage the share of Irish consumer spending accounted for by the digital economy is expected to grow from 7.7 % today 2016 to 12.4 %. If current trends continue this could see €8.5 billion in potential business being lost to Irish retailers every year”, commented Paul Farrell, Vice President of Commercial at Virgin Media.

Closer analysis of the research findings points to strategies which could usefully be adopted by Irish companies to increase their online presence. For example, 53 % of respondents to the survey said a key reason for shopping online was because the product wasn’t available in local shops, while 72% said they could get the products cheaper online. These results represent an import substitution opportunity for Irish retailers both to stock in-demand products in their shops and make them available online at prices which meet consumer expectations.

The willingness to buy Irish is evident in that nearly 6 in 10 online shoppers say they would not buy a product online if they knew they could buy it at the same price in a local shop.

The first step for many Irish retailers needs to be establishing and or improving their online sales channels. Having no website or no sales functionality on it is the digital equivalent of closing a door to your premises and turning customers away. Online customer interaction is also becoming increasingly important with over 4 in 10 Irish internet shoppers reporting that they have interacted with customer service agents on a website via web chat when shopping online.

“The prize is too great to ignore. There is a potential €4.5 billion growing to €8.5 billion in business which Irish retailers can win if they act now. The opportunity is there to make this Black Friday a very good one indeed for Irish business”, Paul Farrell, Vice President of Commercial at Virgin Media.

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