Irish firms urged to cash in on €4bn online market

With Monday set to be the busiest online shopping day of the year, Irish businesses have been urged to get online to capture some of the sales being lost abroad.

“Cyber Monday” is a marketing term used since 2005 to encourage people to shop online on the Monday after the US holiday of Thanksgiving. It has led to sharp increases in online shopping in the years since its introduction.

Some €4bn is spent by online shoppers in Ireland each year. According to Vol Pigrukh, co-founder and chief executive of pricing intelligence firm Profitero, the fact that €3bn of this goes outside the country should be encouraging more retailers to get online.

“With so many stores closing around the country, Irish retailers need to get online to capture some of this growth,” said Mr Pigrukh. “The downturn has made Irish consumers extremely price-savvy.

“They’re going into stores at the weekend, carrying out research on products and pricing, known as showrooming, and then going online on their mobiles, even while still in the store, to do price checks.”

According to the Central Statistics Office, 43% of Irish adults bought some service or product online in 2011. This is up from 36% in 2010 and 33% in 2007.

However, while Ireland is now on a par with the EU average, it is still way behind Britain, where over 70% of adults shop online.

An Irish person spends, on average, more than 18 hours online each month — approximately four hours on Facebook and nearly three hours on Google.

Mr Pigrukh stressed to traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses that a massive national audience is now shopping on the internet.

“Approximately 2.1 millon, or 70% of Irish internet users, use Facebook,” he said. “There are 350,000 Irish Twitter accounts and 613,000 Irish users are now on Linkedin. The growing trend of the internet seeping into everyday life means that many of these users check their accounts daily.

“While Ireland has some way to go to catch up with its European neighbours, stores need to embrace online instead of fearing it.

“Having an online presence to complement your physical store — driving business to the store from your website — will be key to surviving the current difficult climate.”

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