.IE and Retail Excellence Web Health Report

Foreword The .IE and Retail Excellence Web Health Report is unique piece of research, which analyses the health and current status of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) member websites. The findings are significant and targeted, allowing retail businesses take specific action where necessary. Online shoppers need and expect a seamless and safe experience when visiting websites. Retailers can ensure this is the case by adopting best practice and enabling website functionalities that are customer focussed and uncomplicated to implement. Our report covers the following topics – Website Analytics, User Experience (UX), Marketing, Security and E-commerce. Contents Key findings 2 Analytics 3 UX 4 Marketing 6 Security and compliance 8 E-commerce 10 Methodology 11 About .IE and Retail Excellence 12 In the new post pandemic era, the retail landscape in Ireland is undergoing continuous transformation. To keep pace with changing shopping preferences, Irish retailers must prioritise and enhance their online presence. Providing multiple options, such as both online and physical stores, has become essential. Consumers now rely heavily on online research, making it crucial for retailers to establish an omni-channel presence to ensure their survival and growth. During the pandemic, the Online Retail Scheme played a significant role in boosting retailers. However, this report highlights that more efforts are necessary to further improve their online visibility and competitiveness, particularly for micro SMEs, which were excluded from availing of the scheme. It is evident that comprehensive work and investment are required to meet evolving customer expectations. Focusing on areas like security and compliance is vital for retailers to instill trust and confidence in their online operations. Moreover, investing in online activities across social and digital channels is imperative to entice Irish consumers to shop locally. By offering product and customer reviews, as well as implementing live chat support, retailers can build stronger relationships with customers in the digital sphere. Acknowledging the indispensability of online activity for retailers, the government should take steps to incentivise and empower businesses, especially SMEs, in developing their digital presence. By doing so, the government can contribute to fostering a thriving retail sector in Ireland. Jean McCabe Interim CEO, Retail Excellence Ireland Digital transformation is not only changing companies but also defining markets, industries and economic activity resulting in a changing business environment. Yet, in spite of the importance of digital transformation to the Irish economy, empirical research suggests that some sectors are lagging behind. In the .IE and Retail Excellence Web Health Report, we look at the current status and progress of Irish retailers’ online business activities. The business intelligence team at .IE drilled into the features of REI member websites. Their analysis provides actionable insights for the retail sector to assist them in improving their online offering. It is evident that work remains to be done, particularly in the areas of UX, which focuses on making the online user experience a pleasant one; e-commerce activity needs to increase, providing convenience for online shoppers; and online marketing needs to be improved. By focussing on digital capability, retail SMEs investing in digital technologies will position themselves to survive and thrive. We understand the pressures on SME business owners. The range of choices from too many siloed service providers is a significant barrier which they face when implementing digital projects. As such, SME representative bodies can assist with their range and depth of sector experience so they, not individual SMEs, should be the conduit for any national programmes and initiatives to ensure the effective upskilling of their members into the future. We strongly recommend targeted investment in the specific digital areas where retailers need support, channelled through Retail Excellence Ireland. Oonagh McCutcheon Chief Communications Officer, .IE .IE and Retail Excellence Web Health Report 1