The most recent IE and Retail Excellence Ireland report
The recent report on the health of online retail from .IE and Retail Excellence Ireland, is a very welcome piece of research as it analyses the current status of selling online as retailers and points to where improvements can be made. The report interviewed a cohort of online sellers and covered user experience, marketing, security and e-Commerce and Website Analytics. It tells those of us providing, delivering and using ecommerce sites that online shoppers want and expect a safe, seamless and easy experience. They like uncomplicated and user focused websites with a smooth transition from browsing, to ordering and to checkout. This, the report states, is the way forward. At Dmac Media, we are among Ireland’s leading website designers advocating for smooth functionality, logical site layout and ease of searching for products. This is not groundbreaking news from the reports analysis, but there are startling results in relation to security, functionality and tracking. A large number of Irish online resellers are still not fully prepared for online selling. Less than half (46%) of the Retail Excellence Ireland members (REI) who took part in the report, had e-commerce cart functionality on their websites. Only 20% utilise online ad tracking, and just 22% have implemented CAPTCHA on their website. Providing the best online shopping experience should be a priority for online sellers as this is definitely a priority for the next generation of shoppers. A younger demographic with exacting needs and wants from online buying.
“As of early 2023, nearly 40 percent of millennials in Ireland said they would do most of their shopping online if they could choose freely, making them the leading demographic in favour of buying on the web.”
The .IE. REI report looked at the performance of REI member websites across various SME sectors, this included clothing, books, stationery, toys, hardware, footwear, health and beauty retailers and unearthed other surprising statistics. For example, only 14% of retail businesses offer a live chat function on their sites. This is a simple and useful function, which can easily be added to a website to increase the interactive experience and give both retailer and shopper a chance to address enquiries, reviews and feedback. It may even catch an otherwise lost sale! And while on the subject of feedback, the survey also revealed that 18% of websites considered by the report, had no facility to show customer reviews on their websites. Shopify say that reviews or testimonials are not just “nice to have” but also note that 77% of customers “always” or “regularly” read the reviews before committing to a purchase. Again, including testimonials in your site, is not a huge change to a vibrant and busy ecommerce website and one that could make a difference in sales. In fact, shoppers visiting web pages with 1-10 customer reviews are 52% more likely to buy than those who visit pages without any customer reviews.
Among the other key findings of the report were the following:
Adoption of advertising tracking and technology and use of video by retail businesses on their websites was low and the report advises
“Retailers should consider some quick fixes such as installing SEO and social media plugins. Also, easy to use video apps make video creation more straightforward without expert skills.”
Security certificate software is used by 91% of REI members. This is reassuring, but the report also pointed to the need for Irish retailers to prioritise and implement CAPTCHA protections on their websites to enhance their online security.
6 in 10 retail businesses use website analytic tools, and the report advises the use of website analytics to provide inside on customer profiles, traffic sources, the most popular content on the website and the all-important conversion rates.
The authors of the report strongly recommend targeted investment in the specific digital areas where retailers need support and suggested that comprehensive work and investment is needed to meet evolving customer expectations. A focus on those weak areas like security and compliance will be vital for retailers to instill trust and confidence in their online operations. They urge the government to invest and incentivise as they did previously with the Online Retail Scheme, but with an inclusion of micro-SMEs in any further proposals. The Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Neale Richmond, welcomed the report as being of importance in digitalisation for Irish retailers and thanked the report’s authors for providing actionable insights for the retail sector to improve their online offering.
Selling online successfully is an ongoing process and just as with
a brick-and-mortar shop, there is constant need for improving visibility, usability,
and competitiveness. This report is a helpful look at the areas where we can
all do better. It also reminds us that online shopping is now the norm for a
great many Irish households.