Online shopping has become the norm for Irish shoppers with 63 percent of people using the online store of an internet-only retailer within the last 12 months according to new research published today by Barclays Bank Ireland.

Barclays’s research uncovers a desire among Irish consumers for a new form of physical store that is more diverse and makes better use of in-store technology, revealing that 70 percent of shoppers in Ireland expect to use the online store of an internet-only retailer during the next 12 months.

Despite the popularity of online shopping, demand for a vibrant and diverse physical store presence remains very strong. In the next 12 months, consumers are more likely to shop in the physical store of a national retailer than from the same retailer online (69 percent v 44 percent).

The key findings highlighting the transformative changes which face the retail industry in Ireland include:

· Nearly half (47 percent) of people have spent over €500 on a single online purchase while 35 percent of Irish shoppers are willing to spend any amount of money online.

· Nearly half (48 percent) of people are concerned about the security of online transactions, with 32 percent of shoppers wary of potentially fraudulent websites.

· Shoppers are now twice as likely to contact retailers via social media or an online feedback form when compared with three years ago and 64 percent of shoppers expect retailers to respond to social media or email complaints within an hour.

· Over 90 percent of people would like to be able to check product availability online before shopping in their local store while over half (53 percent) of shoppers want personalised online advice from experts based on their individual tastes.

· Investing more on technologies in-store would give retailers a further boost. Shoppers are eager to see more experiential technology to enhance their shopping experiences and are more likely to visit a retailers which utilise virtual reality (71 percent), touchscreen technology (71 percent), smart fitting rooms (72 percent) or augmented reality (66 percent).

· New payment technologies are highly rated by consumers, with many identifying contactless (49 percent) and mobile payments (44 percent) as “useful”. A further 11 percent of people see biometric payments (fingerprint) as potentially life-changing.

· In terms of shopper preferences for stores and outlets in Irish town centres, the top three choices include independent cafes and restaurants (44 percent), discount stores (37 percent) and boutique stores (36 percent).

· Over a third (38 percent) of shoppers feel that Irish town centres have improved in recent years however 47 percent of people believe they are not as clean and smart as they used to be, while a further 33 percent feel that they don’t stock enough locally sourced produce.

· Appetite for the use of drones in retail is more muted, however, with approximately three-quarters of shoppers citing worries about security, privacy and collisions.

Commenting on the findings, Helen Kelly, Head of Client Coverage, Barclays Bank Ireland said:

“Ireland’s retail sector is in the midst of great transformative changes, in-store, in the form of technology and enhanced store standards, and online, through greater access, wider offerings and new value added services. Our research reveals that online shopping is strikingly strong and public expectations of retailers in relation to digital offerings are growing considerably, but we also found that physical stores remain extremely popular and will continue to play a very significant part of the shopping experience for Irish consumers.”

“It’s clear from our analysis that shoppers now expect retailers to invest in new cutting-edge technologies which will enhance their shopping experiences through convenient and secure solutions. By responding to these trends and embracing technology, Irish retailers can take advantage of an excellent opportunity to both grow their business and stay ahead of the competition.”

Irish shoppers to make use of weaker Sterling

The research also reveals that Irish consumers continue to prove their credentials as savvy shoppers with 45 percent of people planning on taking advantage of changing exchange rates to buy more goods from British retailers online.

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