Looking to Ireland could be the first step to increased international sales

Looking to Ireland could be the first step to increased international sales

Key points

In fact, expanding into the Irish online market would be a logical first step for British businesses looking to grow their business overseas.

UK businesses don’t need to look far to increase their overseas sales, according to research commissioned by Royal Mail.

The reasons for this are many. Due to geographical proximity, cultural similarities and a familiarity with UK brands, a large percentage of Irish online shoppers are already buying from UK websites. Add in a shared border, language and timezone, plus strong transport infrastructure, and there’s already much in UK businesses’ favour.

14% of online shoppers in Ireland are UK nationals

The Irish market

According to the research, Irish shoppers spend on average £75 (€85) per month online. As in the UK, clothes (51% of shoppers) and books (27%) are the two favourite purchases.

Irish online shoppers spend on average £75 per month

However, holidays and travel also feature strongly in their shopping carts, with 25% having bought in these sectors in the three months prior to the research. Irish shoppers are also keen online marketplace users, with 78% having shopped this way. Just as in the UK, eBay (77%) and Amazon (72%) are easily the most popular.

Irish shoppers and UK websites

Online shoppers in Ireland are already spending well on UK websites. The research shows eight in ten (81%) of shoppers in the country bought from a UK website in a three month period. The average shopper also buys from a UK website at least once a month, spending £51 per month.

81% of Irish online shoppers bought from a UK website in a three month period

- Royal Mail Delivery Matters

The reasons for this use of UK websites are largely price and availability:

  • 45% said UK websites were cheaper
  • 42% said the item was only available in the UK
  • 16% said the item was better quality from the UK

Plus, trust is high among Irish shoppers, with 82% saying they trust items purchased from UK websites to be authentic and not counterfeits.

Increase sales by meeting local expectations

While the two markets have much in common, there are differences. However, the research suggests, with a few changes to their processes, UK businesses could catch even more of the Irish market.

Go mobile

Ireland’s online shoppers like to buy things with their smartphones and tablets. In fact, three in five of them regularly buy with a mobile device. This is above the UK average, where around two in five regularly shop on smartphones and tablets.  

Three in five online shoppers in Ireland buy regularly with a mobile device

- Royal Mail Delivery Matters

This could be because mobile data is cheaper in Ireland than elsewhere in Europe. It offers opportunities for UK businesses to capture more of the Irish online marketplace.

As a result, websites should be optimised for mobiles, making them easier to use for Irish shoppers on smartphones. UK businesses should also target their advertising spend on the mobile market to maximise this audience.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is also a must. One in ten Irish shoppers are initially unaware they’re on a UK website. Plus, with 48% of them finding UK websites through search, making your site easy to find is vital.

48% of Irish shoppers find UK websites through search

Key steps to increasing sales in the Irish market: 

  • Optimise websites for mobile
  • Invest in mobile advertising
  • Prioritise Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Focus on delivery

Irish online shoppers are more cautious than their UK counterparts. With one in two Irish shoppers considering online shopping to be a risk, reassuring customers is key.

The research also shows 47% of Irish shoppers regularly abandon their carts. That compares to 31% in the UK. One of the main reasons for this is because of unhappiness with international delivery charges (35%).

94% say they’re more likely to shop again if they’re satisfied with delivery

- Royal Mail Delivery Matters

Plus, as 94% say they are more likely to shop again with a retailer if they’re satisfied with delivery, offering the best value delivery possible is key. This will help build shopper confidence and increase repeat business.

It’s also vital to include clear and obvious delivery information on your website. 92% of Irish online shoppers want this before they place an order, so anyone looking to increase their conversions should not expect Irish shoppers to have to search for this information.

Irish shoppers are realistic about having to pay for delivery. But despite less than the international average expecting free delivery with no average spend, 73% of Irish shoppers still search out websites with no delivery charges.

73% of Irish shoppers search out websites with no delivery charges

UK retailers would also be wise to counter Irish shoppers’ caution by offering tracked delivery services. With 84% saying they are more confident buying when online tracking is included, this could be an easy way to drive sales.

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