Irish firms top EU charts for average website and app sales

Irish businesses have topped a EU league table for the number of firms that have received orders via a website or app.

In 2016 just over a quarter of enterprises in Ireland recorded web sales – a figure that was well ahead of the EU average of 16pc for businesses that had received orders via website or app traffic, according to data from Eurostat.

The sales figure included both sales to individual customers, as well as business to business sales.Ireland’s share of the European ecommerce market is €9bn and is expected to grow to €14bn by 2021.

However, most of the consumer spend is going to foreign retailers that offer more comprehensive online services, according to IE Domain Registry’s bi-annual dot ie Digital Health Index.

Ireland topping the list comes at a time when earlier this month 14pc of Irish SMEs said that they rated their internet connection as “poor” or “very poor”, rising to 25pc in Connacht and Ulster, according to the bi-annual dot ie Digital Health Index.

Of the Irish companies that do not have an online presence, more than 50pc say it is because they don’t see a need for one, according to the research. According to the latest Digital Health Index released in December, two-thirds of Irish SMEs have a website, and even more are using social media and data analytics.

Eurostat’s report found the majority of web sales experienced by Irish businesses went to other Irish businesses or consumers, and a similar pattern emerged around Europe, with 97pc of EU enterprises selling to businesses or consumers in their own country.

Following closely behind Irish businesses with web sales were businesses in Sweden and Denmark, where web and app sales accounted for 25pc and 24pc of overall business sales respectively.

At the opposite end of the scale was Romania, where companies recorded web and app based sales of just 7pc last year. Bulgaria and Poland completed the three countries at the bottom end of the scales for businesses recording web sales.

Despite the European Commission’s aim of creating a digital single market, less than half of businesses (44pc) sold to customers located in other EU member states, while just over a quarter (28pc) had web sales to non-EU countries.

A number of barriers were cited by businesses to cross-border web sales including transport charges, which was cited as the main obstacle to cross-border web sales within the EU, according to the data, with 27pc of companies reporting issues around the cost of delivering or returning products.

Other barriers cited by businesses as hampering cross-border web sales were technical barriers such as lack of knowledge of foreign languages, adapting the product labelling, and/or judicial reasons, for example issues relating to resolving complaints or disputes.

The largest proportion of EU enterprises which had sales to customers located in other EU member states were recorded in Cyprus (71pc), and Austria (69pc).

In contrast, despite Denmark recording the third-highest amount of web sales in 2016, businesses in the Nordic country were almost bottom of the scale for web sales going to other EU countries, with only Finland and Romania recording fewer web sales to other EU Member States.

The data from Eurostat was based on results of the 2017 European Union survey on “ICT usage and ecommerce in enterprises”.