2018 holiday eCommerce season: will Irish eCommerce sales live up to industry expectations?

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As Black Friday – recognised as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season all over the world – approaches, the 2018 holiday season is already shaping up to be one of the best in years for Irish retailers. Footfall in the first ten days of November is up 2% on 2017 figures. Consumer spending in 2018 is growing at a steady pace and projected to further increase by 4%, and this year eCommerce sales are expected to grow by a further 11%.

Consumer confidence in Ireland is high – more so than in the UK and the rest of Europe – unemployment is low, and disposable income has increased by about 5% a year in each of the past three years. This strong economy is setting the stage for a spending surge this holiday season.

The growing importance of mCommerce

The predicted 11% growth in eCommerce sales is expected to be driven largely by mobile commerce (mCommerce). Mobile devices are becoming a key purchasing tool when shopping online, holding a 51% share of Irish web traffic. A mobile-friendly website and optimised check-out with rapid address capture are, therefore, now essential to win over savvy online shoppers.

Irish eCommerce merchants need to up their game

In 2017, Irish consumers spent a total of €5 billion online, with 60-70% of Irish online spend going to non-Irish firms – around €3 billion went to retailers outside Ireland. AnPost reported that approximately 50% of the parcels delivered after 2017 Black Friday weekend originated in Ireland, 30% in the UK and the remaining 20% came from Europe, the USA and Asia.

Many Irish retailers still lag behind with their eCommerce offerings, and only one in three Irish SMEs can take orders through their websites. The situation with Irish mCommerce websites is similarly poor. Irish businesses need to improve their online and mobile offerings in order to shift online consumer spend back to Irish-based websites.

The importance of meeting last-mile delivery expectations

Getting the last mile right is critical, as Irish consumers demand shorter delivery times and are prepared to pay for this service.

Irish consumers currently have low expectations of the expected delivery lead time for purchases, with three to five days being the average expected delivery timeframe. This could be because many Irish consumers purchase goods online from sites abroad. However, Irish consumers’ expectations, particularly those of younger consumers, are shifting towards same day or next day delivery.

In the UK, where addressing is much better than in Ireland, still 5% of deliveries never make it to the final recipient. In Ireland, where over 35% of addresses are not unique, this figure must be significantly higher. This not only significantly increases the already high cost of delivery (as the savvy consumer demands free shipping), but ultimately, failed delivery will result in the loss of that customer, customer complaints that take up the time and resources of your customer services team, and negative reviews that will lose you more potential future customers.

A key improvement to make now

While it may be too late to make dramatic changes to your site this side of the 2018 holiday season, one vital change can make a real difference to your online store, helping to increase conversions and improve customer satisfaction: error-proof address validation and autocompletion software.

Retailers should ensure that their address validation software can cater equally well for Ireland and the UK or other countries being sold to. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer who has selected all their desired items than seeing their address being refused at the checkout. Customers who experience this are unlikely to return to the same website in the future.

By autocompleting the address or Eircode, Autoaddress can save up to 91% of keystrokes, increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Having clean, verified addresses with Eircodes will also ensure accurate deliveries and help with GDPR compliance.

@ 2018 Gamma.ie by Monika Ghita

About Gamma 

Gamma is a Location Intelligence (LI) solutions provider; we integrate software, data and services to help our clients reduce risk through better decision-making. Gamma was established in 1993 and was the first company to develop LI for the private sector in Ireland. The company has expanded to become a global provider of cloud-hosted LI systems, micro-marketing solutions and related services.