As consumers gear up to spend billions this holiday season, only 3 in 10 SMEs can take sales orders online

Digital trends in Ireland
SME Digital Health Index
by Naomi Temple
03 Dec 2018
1 minutes to read

While Irish consumers continue to spend into Christmas and the New Year, just 30%, or 3 in 10 Irish SMEs with websites, can take sales orders online, according to our SME Digital Health Index 2018 research.

Our CEO David Curtin has warned Irish businesses that they will lose their customers to their competitors who are offering the choice and convenience of online shopping.

Irish consumers are spending vast sums of money online, during the festive season and throughout the year. E-commerce is worth €12.3 billion to the Irish economy.* According to our Digital trends in Ireland 2018 research, conducted among 1,000 consumers, almost two-thirds (63%) buy consumer items (like clothes and electronics) online at least monthly. Almost half (49%) order food online at least monthly.

Consumers are digitally engaged, too. Our research shows that as many as 20% of Irish consumers spend more than 5 hours a day online; consumer households in the survey have an average of 4 internet-enabled devices.

Despite this booming e-commerce market and widespread digital engagement, few Irish small businesses have any ability to transact online or process sales orders via their website.

Only 34% of SMEs can facilitate online bookings or reservations via their website, while just 26% can actually process payments. 61% do not even promote their services online.  As a result, most e-commerce spend is going abroad to international retailers.**

Consumers sense this disconnect. 68% believe their local high street is not equipped for the digital age. When asked why, 40% said that their local shops aren’t online, while 22% said that booking appointments or reservations isn’t a priority for their local community.

However, Irish consumers are patriotic and want to spend with local businesses: 65% would buy more from their local shops if they had some form of click-and-collect service, which allows consumers to order a product online and pick it up in store. (However, only 2% of e-commerce-enabled SMEs offer a click-and-collect service.)

This omni-channel approach, which allows consumers to engage online and shop in-store, with a seamless transition between the two, is now enabling Irish SMEs to compete with bigger offshore retailers.

Commenting, our CEO David Curtin said:

“Online spending over Black Friday, Christmas and the New Year season has been rising at an astronomical rate. Overall e-commerce spending is rising at a rate ten times that of traditional face-to-face shopping*. Despite this, and the billions of euros Irish consumers are spending online, only 3 in 10 Irish SMEs can take sales orders online.

“There is a clear demand among Irish consumers for Irish suppliers, but the means to link the two online, for the most part, aren’t there. Instead, consumers are looking elsewhere to the retailers that can provide them with the online convenience and choice they want, and that’s one reason why the majority of our e-commerce spend goes abroad.

“We live in a completely digitised world. Consumers now want to effortlessly switch from physical shopfront to mobile to desktop, in the countryside and the city. A business website without some kind of e-commerce service is like a sales rep without an order book or a mobile phone: to go without is to miss out on revenue, new customers and access to new markets.


“While it might be too late for offline SMEs this Christmas, we believe that a ‘national Digital Activation Campaign’—which, for example, provides practical e-commerce and digital workshops to SMEs, and a ‘one-stop-shop’ online resource for website building, online selling and data analytics—would proactively demonstrate to local businesses, in a hands-on way, which actions, steps and tasks to prioritise, in order to achieve the benefits of e-commerce.”

Download our research findings:

SME Digital Health Index 2018
IE Domain Registry is proud to present the 2018 edition of its SME Digital Health Index. Download Now
Digital trends in Ireland 2018
Digital trends in Ireland 2018 Download Now