The data collection for the ECAI National Ecommerce Survey was conducted in March after our our pilot phase in late 2017. The response rate has not been strong, an issue which has been seen in previous attempts at similar surveys in Ireland. That said, the results are interesting and this project can certainly be built upon for future ECAI sponsored national ecommerce surveys as the membership grows.

The survey focussed on four distinct areas:

  1. Demographics of respondent companies
  2. Financials & Analytics
  3. Delivery & Payments
  4. Marketing

Demographics of respondent companies

In our demographics section we asked respondents to tell us about their own location within Ireland as well as questions about their ecommerce environment including the software they use, and their primary sales channels. Valid, complete responses numbered 33 total with a geographic distribution as follows:

  • Dublin: 18
  • Lenister: 22
  • Conaught: 6
  • Munster: 3
  • Ulster: 2

Interestingly the software being used by companies in Ireland is predominately open source (Open source 19; Hosted 6; Proprietary/Other 8). As we would expect, Wordpress dominates with Magento and Joomla the next most popular software being used. Surprisingly, there are still many who have not evolved towards responsive design to support multiple screen sizes with 9/33 reporting their ecommerce website is not using responsive design. (Responsive: 24; Non-responsive: 9)

  • Wordpress: 8
  • Magento: 6
  • Joomla: 5
  • Prestashop: 1
  • OpenCart: 1
  • Shopify: 1
  • Other: 11

Seven responses reported that their ecommerce website supports a second or subsequent language with all but one of these reporting use of mixed language translation (manual and machine translation together) and just one reporting fully machine translation (Google translate plugin for example). This perhaps indicates an encouraging trend towards supporting non-English speaking custom fron Irish registered ecommerce businesses.

In addition to the dominant channel of selling on their own websites, 11 respondents reported also selling via a 3rd party online marketplace (Selling on Ebay or Amazon for example) and results also indicate strong continuing support for traditional channels such as telephone sales (11 respondents) and physical locations (12 respondents).

Sales channels

  • Own websites: 27
  • Physical locations: 12
  • 3rd party online marketplaces: 11
  • Telephone: 11
  • Paper catalogues: 5
  • Own apps: 2

Financials & Analytics

In the financial and analytics section we asked respondents questions about the type of conversion they are targeting, about their customers locations and technical profile, average order values and bounce rates. Conversions targeted indicate respondents were primarily online retailers, targeting direct sales, with fewer targeting conversions via other business models such as subscriptions or membership sign ups. Interestingly, the order of conversions popularity indicated Irish ecommerce managers are targeting valuable secondary conversions such as social media connections and mailing list signups.

Conversions targeted

  • Direct sales: 27
  • Lead generation: 14
  • Social media connections: 14
  • Mailing list/Newsletter signups: 13
  • Subscriptions: 5
  • Memberships: 3
  • Reservations: 0

As expected, the primary location of customers is within Ireland and the secondary is the United Kingdom. Interestingly, sales into the rest of the European Union and outside account for about 20% of overall sales indicating good business is being done through online sales channels in markets outside of the traditional targets for Irish based businesses. The number of items per sale approaching 2 indicates some upselling from Irish ecommerce managers, a strategy that can drastically increase profitability especially in cases where shipping costs are included.

The trend towards increasing mobile and tablet device usage for ecommerce continues with a solid decrease in desktop usage in favour of mobile, and indeed mobile over tablet from previous years figures. This trend is particular important because Google favours websites that are friendly to smaller screens, but it is concerning that many ecommerce websites are still not using responsive design to take advantage here. The bounce rate reported by participants was 38.65%, indicating excellent performance in retaining visitors on these ecommerce websites as compared to international norms [PDF, pp.7-11].

Percentage of your customers who made purchases from:

  • Ireland: 67%
  • England, Scotland and Wales: 14.12%
  • Non-EU countries: 11%
  • Other EU countries: 10.68%
  • Northern Ireland: 5%

Sales averages

  • Average value of a single order (EUR): 188.85
  • Average value of a single item (EUR): 114.59
  • Average number of items purchased per order: 1.99

What devices are your visitors using?

  • Desktop: 41%
  • Tablet: 16%
  • Mobile: 43%

Delivery & Payments

Most respondents typical delivery time frame is within a 2-3 business days window. Only 4 respondents offered a secondary delivery method quicker than their standard option, and only 3 allowed pickup at the vendor or a partner location. 27% of respondents offer free returns however the average estimated incidence of returns across all respondents was just 1.5% of orders. This may indicate an opportunity for Irish ecommerce managers to expand the options in terms of both delivery and returns.

Delivery timeframes and costs

  • Less than 1 business day: 4
  • 2 - 3 business days: 20
  • More than 3 business days: 4
  • Instantaneous: 2
  • Average cost of standard €8.33

Preferred delivery partners

  • An Post: 15
  • DPD: 13
  • Fastway: 8
  • DHL: 4
  • UPS: 3
  • GLS: 2
  • Nightline: 2
  • FedEx: 1
  • TNT: 0

Most respondents offered the expected payment methods of credit or debit card transaction through a Payment Service Provider (PSP), followed by the popular payment bureaus Paypal and Stripe. Aside from those, the payment options offered are sparse with more recent innovations such as cryptocurrency receiving no support. This is not unexpected as the global ecommerce reaction to accepting cryptocurrency has been slow for a plethora of reasons not just vendor related.

What payment options do you offer?

  • Credit Card (via Payment Service Provider, e.g. Realex, Worldpay, Sage or other PSP): 25
  • Debit Card (via Payment Service Provider, e.g. Realex, Worldpay, Sage or other PSP): 23
  • PayPal (Payment Bureau): 20
  • Stripe (Payment Bureau): 11
  • Invoice/Purchase order: 10
  • Bank transfer: 6
  • Apple Pay: 3
  • Cheque: 3
  • Cash on delivery: 2
  • Payment on collection: 1
  • Bitcoin: 0

Marketing

We asked respondents to rank the relative importance of their marketing channels in terms of sales. The rankings were disperse, showing no distinct winner and indicating that Irish ecommerce managers believe all of these channels are quite important in their marketing efforts. The groupings were very close too with direct traffic, organic search and email campaigns on par. 

  • Direct traffic: 14%
  • Email campaigns: 14%
  • Organic Search traffic: 14%
  • Paid Social traffic: 12%
  • Referral Traffic: 12%
  • Organic Social traffic: 12%
  • Paid Search traffic: 12%
  • Affiliate traffic: 10%

We also asked respondents to rank their usage of marketing tools in order of importance for their business. Again the spread of rankings was disperse but the results broadly support the respondents marketing channel strategy with SEO and email campaigns coming in on top followed by social.

  • Email newsletter campaigns: 11%
  • Search Engine Optimization: 10%
  • Facebook boosting/sponsored posts: 10%
  • Google Adwords advertising: 10%
  • Facebook advertising: 9%
  • Presence on Social Networking Sites: 8%
  • Banner advertising: 8%
  • Instagram advertising: 8%
  • Twitter advertising: 7%
  • Presence on comparison sites: 7%
  • Pinterest advertising: 6%
  • Presence on coupon sites: 6%

Conclusions

Though the number of respondents to this first ECAI national ecommerce survey is relatively small, the data collected is interesting and reveals a number of areas of possible opportunity and interest to Irish ecommerce managers. The use of predominately open source software solutions is interesting and perhaps suggests Irish ecommerce managers are seeking dependable software that they can either support themselves or leverage the open market of agencies which work with varying open source software. Support for secondary languages and access to non-traditional markets for Irish companies is also a good sign, showing an evolution beyond our traditional territories into more global reach.

The relatively high number of ecommerce websites reporting no support for responsive design is a concern. Implementing a responsive design is a significant undertaking, and often involves a full redesign of the look and feel of your web presence however the prevalence of smaller screen size usage and the weighting that Google places on mobile friendly websites should provide impetus to move forward with responsive design as soon as possible.

In terms of both delivery any payments, though the traditional bases of one standard delivery type and one standard payment type are covered, there appears little support for choice in these important areas. Once your ecommerce site has reached these minimum standards it may well be worth looking at expanding these options.

The results from our marketing questions support the respondents sales strategies, showing that the marketing approaches deemed most important are the ones which bring direct traffic over paid for traffic. This finding makes sense in terms of classic ecommerce traffic strategies in that investing in natural, direct traffic is a longer term and more solid investment than paid strategies tend to be, though the results here do suggest Irish ecommerce managers are not ignoring the value of paid traffic options either.

One of the first projects suggested at the ECAI was a National Survey of Ecommerce. Through the initial research stage and the piloted version of our National Survey we've had great support from ECAI partners and members. We are now at the launch stage, opening the survey to the entire community. We're very cognizant of how busy our community is and so the balance of usefulness versus effort has been at the fore of developing this survey. There are 26 questions in total and it takes about 10 minutes on average.

To help us represent the widest demographic of Irish ecommerce as possible, we would like you to complete it and share it with other ecommerce professionals you feel it's appropriate for.

Access the survey

Get informed & involved!

To keep abreast of developments with the ECAI and the survey, be sure to join our mailing list, join the group on LinkedIn, and chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. You can also email us through our contact form.

 

One of the major projects that piqued the interest of our membership and board is a National Ecommerce Survey for the Irish ecommerce community. We have been working hard in association with the National University of Ireland Galway to generate a comprehensive survey instrument for collection of this data. Currently we are pilot testing the survey, and here is the story so far.

Why have a National Ecommerce Survey?

The ability to benchmark and set appropriate goals for ourselves is of paramount importance for the success of the Irish ecommerce sector. Knowing where we stand nationally also allows us to compare and contrast the ebbs and flows of Irish ecommerce with those of other jurisdictions. To this end we have prepared a national annual survey of ecommerce companies in Ireland in order to maintain a database of metrics relevant to the Irish ecommerce landscape. Currently we are piloting the survey with a small sample to get fedback, reduce any confusion and ensure quality. 

The 2017 ECAI National Survey focusses on four areas:

  1. Demographics of respondent companies
  2. Financials & Analytics
  3. Delivery & Payments
  4. Marketing

At the ECAI March 2017 Post-peak planning event we ran a series of expert-led roundtables where attendees could discuss issues and opportunities with consultants in Law, Logistics, User Experience, Payments, Marketing, Platforms, exporting, and Operations. In this article, Dr. Ultan Sharkey, Online Shopping Expert and Co-founder of the ECAI talks about the topics that were popular at the User Experience table.

The role of the E-Commerce Manager varies from organisation to organisation. In this post, we will try to take a look at 5 habits which can help you to be a better E-Commerce Manager, enabling you to grow your online revenue.

This event doubles as both the launch of the Ecommerce Association of Ireland (ECAI) and an information evening on the potential implications of Brexit on Ecommerce in Europe.