E-commerce set to continue on upward trajectory according to research commissioned by Digital Business Ireland and .IE, and conducted by Ireland Thinks

The exponential growth in the popularity of e-commerce looks set to continue, according to new Digital Insights research commissioned by Ireland’s leading representative body for the sector, Digital Business Ireland and the custodians of Ireland’s national domain registry, .IE. The research issued today was carried out by Ireland Thinks and is based on a nationally representative sample, collected from a group of over 30,000 panellists.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to disclose if they intended to increase or decrease their online spending in 2022, or whether they anticipated a change in expenditure at all. The findings were then assessed across a broad range of demographics – age, gender, income level and regional distribution. Collectively, the research offers a fascinating insight into consumer trends and behaviours that have emerged over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among its key findings, the Digital Insights research showed that, in 2022:

  • 38% of people expect to increase their online spending
  • 46% of people under the age of 45 said they planned to moderately or significantly increase their online expenditure
  • Men are set to outspend women online this year – with 42% of men saying they will increase their online spend, compared to 34% of women
  • 43% of people across the Connacht – Ulster region will spend online this year, with Munster at 39% and Dublin lagging behind at 36%
  • Across the income brackets, 40% of those earning between 50-80k will increase online expenditure
  • Just 2% of those earning over 80k intend to reduce their online spending

Overall, the research showcases the growing dominance of e-commerce as the preferred shopping experience for many, and is largely indicative of consumer enthusiasm for the convenience, flexibility and security afforded by shopping online. Today’s findings will be encouraging for the many businesses and retailers throughout Ireland who have invested heavily in enhancing their digital functionality over the past two years. In addition, the Digital Insights research demonstrates that any initial hesitancy on behalf of the Irish public with regard to shopping online and the security of it, has long since subsided.

The findings have come as no surprise to Digital Business Ireland, who through working with its network of 6,000 businesses, has witnessed firsthand, the seismic shift in the Irish consumer landscape, as e-commerce continues on its upward trajectory, with little sign of slowing down. Equally, businesses across Ireland have embraced the numerous opportunities offered by pivoting their operations online.

Speaking today, Secretary General of Digital Business Ireland, Lorraine Higgins said: “Today’s findings mark the first in our Digital Insights series, aimed at gaining valuable information into the prevailing opinions of Irish consumers towards shopping online. Evidently,

the exponential growth of e-commerce looks set to continue in 2022, with consumers, across a range of demographics, set to increase their online expenditure. The numerous benefits of online shopping are unparalleled, and our research suggests that consumers have wholeheartedly embraced the flexibility that it provides”.

“In addition, our survey shows that people living in the regions, such as Connacht and Ulster look set to spend more online than those living in high-density cities or urban areas. This is testament to the convenient nature of ‘delivery to your doorstep’ shopping. This further aligns with the experience of high-income earners, who though financially independent, are not ‘time rich’ and have therefore come to rely on online stores and the seamless experience they provide”.

“Overall the findings point to the importance of having digital functionality for businesses and retailers throughout Ireland. At Digital Business Ireland, empowering SMEs to unlock the full potential of e-commerce forms the core of our work, and we are delighted to provide these crucial insights to our members to help them position their sales development strategies for the year ahead”.

Oonagh McCutcheon, Corporate Communications Manager at .IE, and National Director of the .IE Digital Town Programme said: “The pandemic has accelerated many important trends in consumer behaviour, including a shift in retail purchasing preferences from the physical shop to the digital storefront”.

“These findings tell us that it is not wise for business owners or policymakers to divide Irish consumers along stereotypical lines, such as age or geography. Ireland is a small, connected country, and ideas, attitudes, and best practices are learned and quickly adopted. This connectedness means that nearly all Irish consumers are used to spending online. They have a well-formed idea of what a seamless online experience looks and feels like”.

“Furthermore, the demographic diversity of online consumers proves that it is no longer possible for businesses, Irish or international, to build a one-size-fits-all e-commerce experience. Digital consumers are all ages and genders, from all over Ireland, and represent the full spectrum of purchasing power”.

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