Ireland to become one of the fastest growing online markets
Industry expert says that Ireland has "stronger growth than their European counterparts" as a study reveals online retail sales in Europe are set by 2018 to €323bn.
In a survey of 19 markets in Europe made exclusively available to Reuters, market research firm Mintel predicted that online sales would grow to €188bn in 2013 from €166bn in 2012.
Sheila Buckley, Head of eTail Excellence Ireland, says there is currently "massive growth" in online sales in Ireland. “Retail sales are going at 20pc per year and that is a conservative figure,” she said.
“Irish businesses actually have stronger growth than their European counterparts and that has doubled since 2008. The part played by multiple devices such as tablets has been a significant factor in the growth.”
But barriers such as cost and lack of skills mean that 50pc of Irish SMEs are still not online today and “that is a significant issue”, said Ms Buckley.
Mintel said Amazon is extending its lead on the continent, growing market share to 9.8pc in 2012 from 9.2pc in 2011, while Germany's Otto, its next closest rival, saw its share slip to 3.3pc from 3.9pc.
The research firm predicted Amazon could double its Europe-wide market share in the next three to four years despite negative publicity in Britain over its low tax bills and in Germany prompted by strikes at its distribution centres.
Mercer said Amazon was performing strongly despite having only five dedicated country websites in Europe - in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
Mintel said it would still be 2021 before Amazon overtook Germany's Schwarz group, owner of Lidl discount stores, as Europe's biggest retailer, assuming current trends continue.
Amazon last month forecast disappointing income and revenue as it grapples with a weaker international market, overshadowing improving profitability and economic conditions in the United States.
British grocers are also well represented in Mintel's European top 10, with Tesco holding its market share steady at 2.3pc and Walmart-owned Asda and Sainsbury on 1.1pc and 0.9pc respectively, reflecting the popularity of online grocery shopping in Britain.
"In mainland Europe, online shopping is largely non-grocery," Mercer said. "That is not going to change fast."
The Mintel report said Britain and France currently have the strongest demand for buying online and collecting in-store, a trend yet to take off for Germans, who prefer their goods to be delivered.