A quarter (25%) of Irish respondents said that they shop online at least weekly, compared to 46% in the UK and 73% in China, highlighting the considerable potential for online retail growth in Ireland.
This is according to PwC's Irish Total Retail Survey published today and is part of PwC's global retail study comprising over 24,000 online shoppers in 29 territories worldwide, including 1,000 in Ireland. The survey, in its sixth year, is the most comprehensive yet to date and seeks to establish the latest shopping behaviours and expectations among consumers.
The report indicates that mobile shopping is a game changer, social media is the great influencer, improvement in certain in-store aspects is needed. Furthermore, Irish consumers are more wary about cyber hacks compared to global counterparts and Amazon is impacting customer behaviour more than ever.
Top areas for investment for Irish retailers, according to the survey, include mobile websites, talent, Big data, Social media, more secure platforms and loyal customers.
According to the survey, nearly a third (30%) of Irish consumers say that their mobile will become their main shopping tool in the future. Almost half (48%) have shopped online via mobile at least a few times a year. More people are shopping with their mobile than with a tablet and PwC anticipate that in a few short years the mobile device will become the preferred method of online shopping.
The relatively undeveloped Irish online grocery market is an underlying factor for Ireland lagging behind the UK with some of the major Irish grocery retailers lacking an online shopping presence, further highlighting potential headroom for growth.
Although lower online grocery penetration than the UK, Irish respondents are frequent visitors to grocery websites with nearly three-quarters (72%) visiting to check out special offers. With a quarter (27%) of Irish consumers having never visited any grocery retail websites in the last 12 months, it shows the potential opportunity within this sector. The most common reasons for shopping online are convenience and price. Almost a quarter (23%) of Irish consumers purchased most or all their clothing and footwear online in the last year.
Not surprisingly, social media is emerging as the â€˜great influencerâ€™, but the website cannot be ignored. Retailers and consumer companies are trying to connect with customers with non-traditional advertising channels, but they may not be going about it fast enough. The importance of social media to inspire shopping trends is clear. Similar to global trends, over a third (37%) of Irish respondents use social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find inspiration for their purchases and rises to 50% for 18-34 year-olds.
Speaking at the survey launch, Partner at PwC Ireland Retail and Consumer Practice, John Dillon said, "The stakes have never been higher for individual retailers. And with online players popping up in every product category, competition has never been fiercer. In a golden age of choice, powered by the mobile phone and global shopping just a click away, retailers often lack a global brand and face technological upheavals leaving them constantly having to reinvent themselves."