Only 25% of Irish people regularly buy from local websites

Pandemic-inspired patriotic purchasing is waning and there is a pressing need for Irish businesses to digitalise their operations.

Just one in every four consumers in Ireland is making a consistent effort to purchase goods and services from Irish websites.

This is according to new Digital Insights research commissioned by Digital Business Ireland and the custodian’s of Ireland’s national domain registry, .IE.

“As a country, we need to collectively accelerate our efforts to digitalise, and support SMEs in enhancing their online functionality, in order to adequately respond to consumer preferences”

The research was carried out by Ireland Thinks on Friday 7 January and is based on a nationally representative sample, collected from a pool of over 30,000 panellists.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked how often, if ever, they made an effort to purchase from Irish websites, when shopping online.

The findings were assessed across a broad range of demographics – gender, income level, age and regional distribution.

Overall, the research highlights the pressing need for Ireland to collectively accelerate its efforts in helping businesses to digitalise their operations – in order to ensure that consumers have an adequate range of choice when attempting to purchase from Irish websites.

Among its key findings, the Digital Insights researched show that, in 2022:

  • 27% of consumers always make a conscious effort to purchase from Irish websites online
  • 40% of those aged 65+ always try to buy from Irish websites online, compared to just 10% of those aged between 18-24
  • While 35% of women always make an effort to purchase from Irish websites, only 19% of men reported same
  • Just 24% of people earning between 30-50k make an effort to buy from Irish websites online

Departure from patriotic purchasing patterns

Overall, the research indicates a strong departure from the patriotic purchasing patterns of the Covid-19 pandemic – detailed in .IE’s Tipping Point 2021 report, which found that 49% of consumers were consciously electing to purchase goods from Irish websites online in 2020.

“The findings issued today, coupled with our own research in .IE show that despite a surge of solidarity in the early months of the pandemic that briefly tilted the balance of online consumer spending in favour of Irish SMEs, some consumers have since done most of their online shopping with international retailers,” said Oonagh McCutcheon, corporate communications manager at .IE.

“As a result, many have become used to the highly functional, seamless shopping experience offered by larger multinational retailers – and have quickly lost patience with local SMEs that don’t get the basics right”.

“At the very least, an Irish business needs a website that clearly describes its service, opening hours, location and contact information. Those selling a physical product should integrate e-commerce directly into their website or alternatively, sell via a third party platform. Most of the tools required to make a professional-looking, revenue-generating website are inexpensive. They are an extremely worthwhile investment.”

While many businesses throughout Ireland have invested significantly in enhancing their digital functionality and online presence, this effort is not being replicated by consumers in Ireland who remain somewhat apathetic to the issue of shopping from Irish websites online.

While the lure of global brands can prove tempting for many, Digital Business Ireland is keen to highlight the numerous benefits of shopping from the websites of Irish businesses.

Most notably, figures released last year showed that for every €10 that is spent on Irish products, more than €40 is generated in benefits to the local community, in the context of employment.

Digital Business Ireland said it leveraged this insight as part of its Click Green Buy Nearby campaign, launched at the end of November 2021, which encouraged consumers throughout Ireland to tap into their sense of patriotism and makes a concerted effort to purchase goods and products from Irish websites.

“From previous research, we know that when it comes to shopping from Irish websites, every single euro counts,” said Lorraine Higgins, secretary-general of Digital Business Ireland.

“While consumers made a stellar effort to purchase from Irish retailers online at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, evidently, there has been substantial drop-off in support in recent months. For the sake of economic prosperity, it is essential that we revive the initial sense of patriotism which was embedded in consumers in early 2020”.

“Overall, we know that consumers want websites that are mobile responsive, readily accessible, well designed and easy to use.

“As a country, we need to collectively accelerate our efforts to digitalise, and support SMEs in enhancing their online functionality, in order to adequately respond to consumer preferences.

“In addition, we need targeted national and local campaigns – such as our own Click Green Buy Nearby initiative and our €100,000 Backing Business digital transformation campaign – to encourage people throughout the country to purchase from Irish websites, and offer incentives to initiate same,” Higgins urged.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.

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