Ireland is a growing opportunity for UK sellers, but a country that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. At TDC Global (The Delivery Conference) we sat down with Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director and COO Mails & Parcels, at Ireland’s national postal service An Post Commerce.
An Post is rebranding in 2019, and with it a new B2B company An Post Commerce, which will be the face of Ireland’s leading delivery service. This is a landmark moment in history for the Irish postal service, and positions An Post Commerce as an engine for growth for ecommerce in Ireland.
It’s worth considering the population of Ireland which has the youngest population in the EU with 30% under 25 years old. 38% of those under 30 years old shop online at least once a week. It’s also a country with a relatively affluent population with companies such as Facebook, PayPal, eBay and Google all having bases there offering high paying employment. Ireland, to put it bluntly, is stuffed full of young earners with money to spend.
Ireland has one problem however and that’s a shortage of products online to buy but the Irish love UK brands and with 68% of their online purchases coming from the UK Garrett was effusive about the opportunities for An Post Commerce. They have seen parcel volume growth of 18% in 2017 jump to 38% in 2018. From Q4 2018 they witnessed a step change in online shipping with Q4 parcel volumes growing 73%. No that’s not a typo – year on year An Post saw a 73% growth in parcels in the fourth quarter of the year and most of that is Irish consumers buying from UK merchants.
Ireland does however have some unique challenges with 40% of addresses not being unique. Ireland doesn’t rely as heavily on Post Codes as the UK and, when two people with the same name both live in the same street their addresses might be indistinguishable – local knowledge is key and that’s where An Post come in. Customer service is key so everything from the appearance of Irish Posties to their personal relationship with their community is what sets them aside from carriers in other countries.
There are two key messages which Garrett had – firstly that Irish ecommerce is growing incredibly fast and most of that growth is from the UK. If you’re not seriously tailoring your offers to attract Irish consumers than you may be missing out.
Secondly Garrett points out that An Post is the default carrier for Ireland (even if you post with a UK carrier it’s often An Post that deliver). They offer line haul service for large retailers who have 40 foot trailers full of parcels destined for Ireland and with offices in St Albans offer aggregation and consolidation services for smaller retailers.
There’s no surprise that Garrett was practically bouncing off the walls at the thought of all the parcels destined for Ireland. The explosive growth positions An Post Commerce for growth, but it’s also an opportunity for ecommerce merchants in the UK.
If you already sell to Ireland, did you see significant increases in sales in Q4 2018? If not, what will you do to ensure you capture a share of their growing sales for the Black Friday to Christmas period in 2019?