Pandemic forces Ireland to do business differently 

By Samantha Dempsey 

Image: Creative Comms. license

Samantha Dempsey looks at the findings of the e-commerce and ICT 2021 survey carried out for the Information Society Statistics – Enterprise publication 2021 released by the CSO, revealing many Irish business have stepped up to the online retail challenge.

The results from the Survey on e-commerce and ICT 2021 publication has been shown from the Information Society Statistics – Enterprise publication. The survey is carried out on an annual basis and was conducted in the first half of 2021. The survey is completed by enterprises with 10 or more employees and self-employed persons in the Manufacturing, Construction and selected Services sectors. Approximately 4,000 enterprises were surveyed online for the 2021 survey with 49.7% of sampled enterprises completing the survey. This year, there has been a notable increase in the number of Irish enterprises relying on technology to aid their business.

Almost one in five enterprises (19%) experienced an increase in sales via websites or apps during the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and Government measures put in place to reduce its spread have made enterprises across Ireland change how they do business.  The survey reports that almost one in five (19%) enterprises reported an increase in sales via websites or apps during the COVID-19 pandemic. One in ten set up a website to facilitate online sales while 18% provided a “click & collect” service. A third (31%) of enterprises increased their use of social media in response to the COVID-19 pandemic while 8% set up a new social media account. 

More than four in five (82%) businesses have a website or homepage. 

In 2021, 82% of enterprises had a website or a homepage compared to 79% the previous year. In the Manufacturing sector, enterprises that had a website or homepage increased from 90% in 2020 to 93% in 2021. More than eight in ten (81%) of businesses from Services sectors had a website or homepage in 2021, an increase from 77% in 2020. In the Construction sector, 82% of enterprises reported having a website or homepage in 2021. 

Nearly all enterprises (97%) are using broadband. 

The 2021 survey shows that almost all (97%) enterprises with more than 10 employees and self-employed, were using broadband in their business.  

Four in ten (40%) businesses sell online while more than half (54%) sell online. 

In 2021, four in ten (40%) enterprises in Ireland had e-commerce sales. Large enterprises, those with 250 or persons engaged, had the highest proportion of enterprises with e-commerce sales at 63%. This compares with 53% of medium sized firms (50-249 persons engaged) and 36% of small businesses (10-49 persons engaged). 

Ireland was the most common location for online orders by customers. 

A third (33%) of enterprises received orders via website or apps from customers located in Ireland in 2021. One in ten (10%) firms received orders online from customers located in the other countries in the European Union (EU) which in 2021 excluded the United Kingdom (UK). In 2021, 11% of enterprises indicated that they received orders from customers located in the rest of the world, which includes the UK. 

A third (34%) of enterprises made use of interconnected deices or systems that can be monitored or controlled remotely via the internet, more commonly known as the “Internet of Things”. 

Almost three in five (59%) businesses have purchased Cloud Computing Services. 

Artificial Intelligence was used by 8% of enterprises. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to systems that use technologies such as text mining, computer vision, speech recognition, machine learning, deep learning etc. to gather or use data to predict, recommend or decide, with varying levels of autonomy, the best action to meet a specific goal. Examples of AI applications include chatbots, face recognition, data analysis based on machine learning, and autonomous robots. 

The survey questionnaire can change from year to year to reflect changes in e-commerce and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in enterprises. Additional modules on specific ICT subjects are included annually, biennially or triennially while new modules are introduced each year to capture information on emerging topics or technologies.

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