Increasing internet connectivity and growing ownership of internet-enabled mobile devices means that Irish consumers can access and purchase items from online stores with greater ease than ever, whilst providing online retailers with the opportunity to grow sales via online and mobile channels. However, in order to capitalise on this, online retailers will have to provide more value-added benefits to consumers, and ensure that a seamless experience is offered across the range of devices that consumers use in their purchasing journey.

Key themes in the report

  • What devices do Irish consumers use to make online purchases? – Do desktops/laptops dominate online retail, or have tablets become consumer’s primary purchasing devices? Are consumers more likely to shop online from the home than when outside the home? How does device usage vary with demographics?

  • What types of products and services are Irish consumers buying online? – What products/services do consumers purchase online? Do products/services purchased online vary by the type of device used? What are the implications for the future of online and mobile retailing.

  • What are consumers’ delivery preferences? – Where are consumers most likely to have items delivered to? What are the most popular methods of return? Would consumers be willing to pay more for faster delivery, or, accept slower delivery for reduced cost/free? What are the implications for online retail?

  • What impact will the introduction of the postcode system in RoI have upon online retail? – Will the introduction of postcodes overcome delivery issues and provide consumers with increased confidence in delivery? Who would be most likely to buy online more as a result of the postcode system?

  • What is the value of the online and mobile retail sector in Ireland? – What is the size of the online and mobile retail sector in Ireland? How much of this expenditure flows out of Ireland and how could this be overcome?

Other Mintel reports of relevance include:

  • Online and Mobile Retailing - Ireland, March 2014

  • Fashion Online – UK, August 2014

  • Online and Mobile Shopping – US, June 2014

  • Online and Mobile Banking – Ireland, September 2013

  • Beauty Online – UK, December 2013

  • Online Retailing – Ireland, March 2012


This report examines the online and mobile retailing sector in Ireland, through exploring the issues that are fuelling, or affecting its growth. Online and mobile retailing is concerned with consumers ordering and paying for goods and services through online channels, including desktop and laptop computers, and internet-connected mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Online and mobile retail includes physical items bought online, for example clothes, and the purchase of intangible products such as holidays.

This report will examine two main types of retailer:

  • Pure-play retailers are those that trade exclusively online, for example and

  • Multichannel retailers are those that trade through online channels as well as physical stores. Examples include supermarkets such as Tesco.

Data sources

For the purpose of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive online research into Irish consumers’ use of online and mobile retailing, the goods and services purchased, delivery and return methods used, and their attitudes towards online and mobile retailing. The research was carried out by Toluna on behalf of Mintel in December 2014.

A total of 750 internet users aged 16+ in NI and 1,250 internet users aged 16+ in RoI were asked questions including:

“Thinking about shopping online, which of the following, if any, have you bought in the last 12 months, and did you buy it using a laptop/desktop computer, a smartphone or a tablet?”

“You’ve indicated that you have purchased products online in the last 12 months. Which of the following methods of delivery have you used?”

“Thinking about online and mobile retailing, please indicate which of the following statements you agree or disagree with.”

Please note that the results presented in The Consumer sections of this report relate to the usage and habits of Irish internet users only, and do not account for the behaviours of non-internet users. Eurostat (January 2015) highlights that 80% of RoI consumers have used the internet in the last 12 months, while the ONS (May 2014) highlights 79% of NI consumers have used the internet.

Mintel also draws consumer insight from other sources:

  • Mintel’s trend database and previous Mintel reports in the UK and Ireland.

In compiling this report, Mintel has gathered data from separate NI and RoI sources (eg NISRA and CSO). In some cases, therefore, it has not been possible to provide comparable data for each region.

For the purposes of this report:

  • Ireland or IoI refers to the island of Ireland.

  • NI refers to Northern Ireland.

  • RoI refers to the Republic of Ireland.

Therefore, ‘Irish consumers’ refers to both NI and RoI consumers.


ComReg Commission for Communications Regulation (RoI)
CSO Central Statistics Office (RoI)
DETINI Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland
ECB European Central Bank
EU European Union
GB Great Britain
HMRC Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
IPSO Irish Payments Service Organisation Limited
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