Scurri, the software provider that connects and optimises the eCommerce ordering, shipping, and delivery process has released the results of its nationwide representative B2B survey among over 150 retailers across Ireland. The findings reveal the level of key concern felt by retailers leading up to the festive season. The study also looked at how supply chain complications have caused changes in online retailers’ key growth markets and their feelings going into the New Year (2022).

“Supply chain disruption is at a crisis point. HGV driver and CO2 shortages, inflated shipping costs and commodities prices, sustainability issues, financial strains and greater ESG regulations for sourcing and manufacturing goods are just some of the many challenges retailers are facing. As we approach one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, it’s therefore critical for retailers to reflect on how they can respond to their concerns through their own campaigns and strategies. Retailers have no choice but to turn this disruption on its head by kickstarting Christmas marketing earlier than usual to keep customers happy”, says Rory O’Connor, founder and CEO of Scurri.

HGV driver and staffing shortages at a crisis point, Northern Ireland Protocol and resulting complications among main retailers’ concerns

Almost 9 out of 10 online retailers state that they are concerned or very concerned about labour shortage and supply chain issues ahead of the Christmas season, with only as little as 9% of retailers saying they are not really concerned.

More than half of the surveyed online retailers (59%) felt that they would be facing a more challenging Christmas season than in the previous year (Christmas 2020), with only 15% believing that the situation will prove less difficult. For physical stores there were similar sentiments, with 58% stating that they see the circumstances being more challenging than what we experienced in 2020, and 28% believing that physical stores will face the same amount of difficulty.

Of course in these circumstances, Irish retailers have been looking to our neighbors in the UK and their dealing with the crisis. 75% of online Irish retailers feel that Ireland is in a stronger position than the UK to deal with the present situation. Similarly, more than three quarters of respondents (76%) agree that the Northern Ireland Protocol is the greatest factor negatively impacting trade this coming Christmas.

As a result of these changes and complications in the last month, many Irish retailers are concerned about the level of expected trade to and from Ireland in coming months. 29% of respondents predict exports to fall, imports to rise;  24% predict exports to rise, imports to risel 24% predict exports to rise, imports to fall; and 23% predict exports to fall, imports to fall. These results highlight the uncertainty of the direction in which trade may go as we enter the new year.

Looking to the future – shifting of priorities for online retailers

When it comes to looking to the future, Irish online retailers are confident about what is in store for 2022. While concerns regarding the supply chain and resulting complications may still prevail, 87% say that they are optimistic about the new year. Things have changed however, and priorities for online retailers have shifted:

  • 54% said advancing their sustainability agenda to reduce impact on the planet is their priority.

  • Other top priorities include Covid-19 recovery and return to pre-covid levels of business (47%), investing in digital retail technology (45%), winning new business (44%), as well as cross border expansion (41%).

Alteration of key growth markets

Additionally, 85% of the surveyed retailers (128 out of 150) had to alter their key growth markets as a result of recent events, with the most popular areas now being Spain (39%), Belgium (30%), Italy (28%), France (27%) and the Netherlands (26%). For those retailers who did not alter their key markets, the most popular regions that they continue to focus on include the domestic territory of Ireland (36%), Germany (32%), The Netherlands (32%), Switzerland (27%), and the US (23%).

While the strong majority of online retailers remain optimistic for the coming year, there are still worries. 86% of retailers state they are concerned over labour shortage and supply chain issues affecting beyond early 2022. Overall it is fair to say that when looking past this busy retail season and into the near future, there is a sense of cautious optimism by retailers.

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