E-commerce Payments Trends
Confident consumers spend at home and abroad, driving Irish e-commerce to new heights
Ireland is a nation shopping online in rising numbers, with shoppers seeking products from both homegrown and overseas merchants—and preferably on their smartphones
Ireland is a nation of enthusiastic online consumers, willing to spend high amounts online. The average Irish online shopper spends EUR2,708 (US$2,925) a year,1 the third-highest amount amongst the European countries in our report. Only Norway and the UK spend more.2
E-commerce has been buoyed by strong employment levels, which are at their highest in over a decade.3 However, the ongoing impact of Brexit on Ireland-UK trade and the COVID-19 pandemic will place pressure on consumer confidence.
The sustainability credentials of brands and their products are rising in importance for Irish consumers. Four out of 10 (41 percent) Irish shoppers say they are willing to pay a premium for products with sustainable origins.4 Nearly half (49 percent) of Irish consumers say they seek to buy items with less packaging, compared with 37 percent globally.5
Click-and-collect deliveries are rising in popularity, particularly among younger demographics who can collect their order as part of their working day.6 Speed is important in Ireland: half of consumers expect their products to arrive within two days. Only a third (33 percent) are willing to wait three to five days.7
Four in 10 of Irish Population are Yet to Spend Online
- The Irish business-to-consumer e-commerce market is worth EUR8.6 billion.8 Year-on-year growth has hovered around the 10 percent mark since 2017.9 It is projected to continue at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8 percent to 2023.10
- Normally taking a 13 percent share of the overall retail market, e-commerce grew to take 15.5 percent of all turnover during Ireland’s lockdown in the first half of 2020. Clothing, footwear and textiles sales increased almost eightfold during this period. However, consumers focused more on saving than spending during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with household savings leaping by EUR3 billion in April 2020.11 This cautious attitude may persist.
Irish Merchants are Making Mobile a Priority
- Ireland, like neighboring UK, is a nation of smartphone devotees. Almost half of all of e-commerce sales—45 percent—are made via a mobile device,12 totalling EUR4.1 billion in expected sales in 2020.13 This figure is set to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent to 2023, when the mobile commerce market will be worth EUR6.2 billion.14
- Irish merchants are shaping this growth, as they invest more in their mobile commerce capabilities. The amount of Irish businesses with a mobile-optimized website has jumped from 27 percent in 2014 to 76 percent today.15
Social Commerce and 5G set to Underpin Mobile Sales Growth
- Samsung is the most popular smartphone brand with 34 percent market share, followed by Apple at 30 percent.16 Merchants should optimize apps for both Android and iOS-based operating systems.
- In-app sales are supported by the rise of social commerce. YouTube and Facebook are the second and third-most visited websites in Ireland respectively, with Twitter in fourth place. The fashion and technology categories are those that see the most transactions take place via social channels.17
- Mobile commerce is set to become faster to access and use. 5G mobile access speeds are slowly being rolled out across Ireland, starting in cities and major venues before reaching rural areas.18 However, there are disparities in broadband access. The Dublin region has over 90 percent broadband penetration, in comparison to 67 percent in the Midlands region.19
Cards Keep their Number-One Spot as Ireland’s Preferred Payment Method
- Cards are the number-one way to pay in Ireland: the nation uses card to pay for six out of every 10 online purchases.20 Cards’ popularity is growing. This method is expected to take a 69 percent share of the payments market by 2023.21
- Digital wallets are set to grow very slightly to 2023, to take a 22 percent share of the overall payments market.22 The most-used brand is PayPalä, which takes a significant 20 percent share of the overall alternative payments market. Other international brands are readily available, but have limited uptake at present.23
- Other methods, like bank transfers and cash, are set to shrink in use.24 Ireland looks set to become a market driven by ongoing card payments growth, with digital wallets also rising in line with growing smartphone use.
High Levels of Cross-Border Spending is a Key Feature of Irish E-commerce
- The UK and Ireland share streamlined import and export agreements and close proximity, making the UK the biggest international market for Irish online shoppers.25 Fashion is a key cross-border segment, with the UK’s Boohoo and ASOS among the top-20 most popular e-commerce sites in Ireland. Amazon.co.uk is a top-10 site in Ireland.26
- An estimated 84 percent of Irish online consumers have shopped cross-border, almost double the average rate seen across Europe.27 This can be explained in part by a historical reticence by local Irish merchants to deploy e-commerce and a wide choice of brands and products on offer in the UK.
Close Ties with UK May Raise Ease-of-Trade issues, as Brexit Progresses
The UK is a key cross-border shopping destination, but new trade tariffs and regulations due to Brexit may impact cross-border ease of trade going forwards.28
- Complexity: Low
No local entity is required. There are no currency or foreign exchange limitations.29
Barriers or benefits to e-commerce market entry
One important factor for Irish online shoppers is the availability of free returns. 45 percent said free returns are the most important aspect of the e-commerce delivery process, placing Ireland on a par with countries like Germany and the UK when it comes to high returns policy expectations.30 This may drive up costs for overseas merchants.
Factors driving the cost of payment acceptance
The Irish government has implemented a debit card interchange fee cap of 0.1 percent, a 50 percent reduction on the standard EU cap of 0.2 percent. The interchange fee cap on credit cards was maintained at the EU level of 0.3 percent.31
E-commerce growth will be supported by new Irish consumers entering the online marketplace. There is still an estimated 41 percent of the Irish population yet to make their first online purchase, compared with just 17 percent in neighboring UK.32
Irish merchants are increasingly seizing this opportunity, generating greater choice and competition. That said, cross-border spending is an integral, everyday part of Irish online shopping.
Merchants must optimize their sites for mobile devices, and offer seamless card payments. Irish consumers are more likely to close a transaction on the go and card is by far the most popular choice for making payment. Looking ahead, sales made via social channels are likely to become increasingly prominent.