Ireland eCommerce Country Guide

A guide that can help you improve your cross-border strategy


By Nightline

You can find more information about Nightline Delivery at

Green light for growth: Ireland key for UK online opportunities

For a country with roughly half the population of London, it’s fair to say that the Republic of Ireland punches well above its weight as a trading partner especially for the UK’s business community. It’s a relationship which is based on more than mere proximity – a point made especially clear to anyone even vaguely familiar with the continuing commercial importance of online shopping.

The sale of goods and services between the UK and Ireland is now worth approximately €1bn per week and justifies our being ranked as one of the UK’s main export markets, only a fraction behind the likes of France and China. This demonstrates that Ireland is a viable market for retailers in other territories too.

Anyone who has taken the trouble to download this cross-border passport will doubtless already be considering whether to expand their operations into Ireland. They will find it contains a wealth of valuable background information about our folk, finances, laws and logistical infrastructure.

If you need any more convincing, allow me to share some of the insight amassed by the Nightline Group over more than two decades.

As Ireland’s premier delivery firm, operating on a daily basis across all of the island’s 32 counties, we have developed an acute understanding of the preferences of the very consumers fuelling our ecommerce boom.

Irish e-shoppers are confirmed and sophisticated fans of cross-border shopping. A recent Nightline survey of several thousand people concluded that 86% buy – and want to buy more – from retailers based overseas, predominantly in the UK and US.

Direct delivery tariffs might class shipments bound for the Emerald Isle as ‘International’ but Nightline strive to deliver at UK domestic rates and consumers demand the same level of service offered to their UK counterparts. They want the same breadth of produce, the same convenience, cost and speed of delivery and the same ease in returning unwanted purchases.

Our UK retail partners, including the majority of the UK’s top 20 brands, have realised that not being able to offer comparable standards at the checkout increases the prospect of cart abandonment.

They have tapped into the appeal of Parcel Motel, our nationwide parcel locker system. A unique proposition in Ireland, it has almost 250,000 regular users – the top 10% of Irish consumers – and is capable of handling low-cost deliveries and returns.

Using a ‘Virtual Address’, which is driving rapidly-rising volumes of ecommerce purchases to customers in the Republic through our Belfast depot, retailers have already seen the clear benefits of catering to a consumer audience whose vast appetite is growing at a rate even faster than the UK.

Next day delivery throughout Ireland is now a reality for retailers with fulfilment operations in the UK and the overheads for penetrating the Irish market can be further reduced by a direct collection and injection into the Nightline network. The barriers to entering Ireland are coming down.

Others have realised that there are significant rewards to be had on an ‘Emerald Isle’ which is well and truly open for business. What are you waiting for?

John Tuohy

CEO – Nightline

Executive summary

Ireland, as an island, consists of two separate but conjoined market opportunities and countries – the Republic of Ireland (‘the Republic’) and Northern Ireland.

The Republic has a population of over 4.6 million and a GDP per capita of nearly $49,000 in 2014; the fourth-highest of any member state of the European Union (EU). Most of the population speak English and 30% speak Irish Gaelic. Tourism is a key part of the economy with over 8 million tourists visiting every year; more than double the population of the country.

Three international airports and membership of the EU have established the Republic as an active participant in cross-border trade across the EU, Northern Ireland and further afield. The main import markets are the United Kingdom (UK – 39%), United States of America (US – 10%), Germany (8.5%) and Netherlands (6%).

Northern Ireland, while being politically and economically part of the UK, is geographically closer to the Republic, sharing a common border and heritage. While this report focuses on the Republic, cross-border trade is an important way of life for the communities both sides of the border.

As such, it is important for any merchant looking to trade into the Republic to understand the differences as well as the opportunities. Where appropriate, specific insight in to the Northern Ireland market will be highlighted, while more in-depth information is available from the UK passport which can be found at For example, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to share a physical land border with the EU. Northern Ireland has a population of over 1.8 million while the provincial capital, Belfast, contains over 330,000 inhabitants.

In the Republic, Dublin represents the single largest conurbation and concentration of people in the country. With over 1 million citizens residing in the capital’s region, it offers merchants the biggest market while the second largest area (Cork) is notably smaller at around 190,000 inhabitants. With a considerable proportion of the population in rural areas, good road links are important and the country is well provided for in this area.

Key areas covered in more detailed sections of the report include:


Online and mobile usage

Online shopping behaviour


Trust and dispute resolution

Finance and payment

Legal framework and regulation

Logistics and delivery

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