Irish SMEs biggest seller of online goods in Europe - report
European Commission survey finds Ireland sell double the EU average online
Irish businesses are ahead of their EU counterparts in terms of overall online trade. E-commerce accounts for 19 of Irish SME turnover, compared to the EU average of 9.4 per cent.
Irish SMEs are the biggest seller of online goods in the European Union according to the findings of a new report by the European Commission. The European digital progress report (EDPR) for 2016 found that Ireland ranked first out of 28 EU countries when it comes to SMEs’ use of the internet to sell their products and services, with 32 per cent of Irish SMEs selling online, double the EU average of 16 per cent.
Similarly, Irish businesses were ahead of their EU counterparts in terms of overall online trade. E-commerce accounts for 19 of Irish SME turnover, compared to the EU average of 9.4 per cent.
Despite strong engagement by Irish businesses with the internet, Ireland lagged behind other European countries in other areas.
Just 44 per cent of the Irish population have basic digital skills, below the EU average of 55 per cent, the report found.
Similarly, while 96 per cent of Irish households are covered by fixed broadband this is below the EU average, with take-up by households at 65 per cent.
Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly welcomed the strong engagement by SMEs with the online market place, noting that Irish small and medium-sized businesses were ranked as the second-biggest users of social media in Europe at 35 per cent.
“A web presence is essential for any business in this digital age, enabling smaller businesses to sell more and better promote their goods or services,” he said. But he warned that Ireland’s poor performance in terms of digital skills was a cause for concern.
“We urgently need to increase the opportunities for young people to study and work in ICT, through the mainstreaming of coding and related ICT skills,” he said, adding that there could be up to 825,000 unfilled IT vacancies across the European Union by 2020 due to the lack of specialised IT skills among the workforce.
The report found that while the proportion of ICT specialist in total employment in Ireland was high at 4.6 per cent, Ireland still lacks skilled IT professionals.
The annual European digital progress report looks at the progress made by each member state in terms of digitalisation and is used to inform and shape EU digital policy. The European Commission will publish details of plans for a digital single market in Brussels on Wednesday.