Business Articles

  • All(193)
  • Business Commentary(26)
  • Business Start-up Support(13)
  • Featured Business(73)
  • Financial Support(8)
  • Marketing Support(14)
07 November 2016

How your shipping can take advantage of the $1.9 trillion eCommerce market

Posted By: AIB Business
How your shipping can take advantage of the $1.9 trillion eCommerce market

Only 20% of Irish online shops that ship goods quote international delivery as a service upfront. What does this mean to Irish online retailers in the eCommerce market? It means a lot of missed opportunity to grow their business! By not having or not stating the facility to ship overseas, eCommerce retailers are restricting themselves from a rapidly growing global eCommerce market worth an estimated $1.9 trillion, writes Liz Fulham of SalesOptimize.


European B2C eCommerce market

The European B2C eCommerce market will break the €500 billion barrier in turnover this year. While growth is slowing down in major markets such as the UK, Germany and France, there is rapid growth in other countries such as Southern and Eastern Europe. The UK market has a turnover of €157 billion and is ranked number one in Europe, while Ireland is ranked 17th, but experiencing double digit growth.


Ireland vs UK eCommerce Landscape

The UK eCommerce market has more than doubled in the last five years, yet only 9.5% of retail goods are purchased online – over 90% are purchased on the high street. Despite this, the eCommerce market is growing fast, as more Europeans are shopping online, and on a more regular basis. The population aged 15+ in the UK is 53.6M and in Ireland it’s 3.6M. Despite this staggering gap the % gap is not as large when looking at our internet users (93% for UK and 82% for Ireland). However when we drill down to those of us who shop online the percentage gap widens again (81% of internet users in the UK shop online and in Ireland it’s 52%).


Free shipping is one of the key drivers to encourage consumers to shop online more often. However, many online retailers are still not offering this service. This is especially a challenge for smaller businesses where there are tight margins and the average selling price can be small. It makes it harder for them to absorb the costs. We analysed over 180k online retailers and took a deeper look at the shipping market; from those who offer free shipping, to those who declare international shipping upfront and who is ranking tops in the ecommerce shipping market.

You can read the full report here. Of the online retailers analysed 36% of Irish online retailers’ offer free shipping with the UK coming in at 34%. Only 20% of Irish and 22% of UK online retailers state availability of international shipping upfront. And here’s who ranks for the biggest market share  - An Post (31%), Fastway (12%) and DPD (10%) in Ireland and Royal Mail (45%), Parcelforce (8%), DHL (6%) in the UK  - see the top ten ranking in the report here.

There is no loyalty among online retailers with regard to who they ship with so it’s interesting how the market share changes when analysing the top Irish websites that are doing over $1 million in online volume – AnPost continues to hold top position. However, Fastway drops down to 5th position and UPS jumps up to second. Similarly in the UK Royal Mail continues to hold top position. And, Parcelforce slips down the table to fifth position and DPD jumps up to second.


Top 10 Irish e-Commerce shippers – Market Share

The table below gives you a quick glance at the top 10 in Ireland.  It is based on the number of websites using specific shipping company services:

Shipping Company


An Post








Royal Mail








Nightline/Parcel Motel 






With the eCommerce market growing at a phenomenal rate, the opportunities for shipping and delivery companies are greater than ever before despite the highly competitive market. If free shipping is one of the main drivers to encourage more shoppers to spend online then ecommerce merchants must offer free shipping as a given to be able to compete in this space. This in turn will help drive the figure of 9.5% (of retail goods purchased online today) up much more in a market that has more than doubled in the last 5 years. International shipping connects businesses with the $1.9 trillion dollar market of ecommerce and with only 22% of UK and 20% of Irish merchants in this space it is an area that needs to be addressed for market growth. For businesses looking to scale those making strategic decisions around who they target and where they ship can make key differences in their market positioning and, ultimately, their bottom line. And for shipping companies, it’s clear that there are no loyalties among online retailers. But in this growth phase there may be an opportunity to try a number of different growth strategies until you get the right one that will bring you to No 1 in your preferred rankings. The rapid rate of change leads to exciting times ahead. 

The full report, which reveals the winners in the eCommerce shipping wars in Ireland and the UK, can be downloaded here.

The “eCommerce Market Report, Shipping Companies Ireland & UK is based on an analysis of over 182,000 Irish and UK retailers that sell goods online which is one of the biggest analysis of this kind ever undertaken.


Related Links

     Subscribe to AIB's SME Newsletter


Written by: Liz Fulham, Founder and CEO, SalesOptimize – helping businesses to quantify the true size of their B2B eCommerce market and identify prequalified sales leads for businesses selling to online retailers.

Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.

Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.