Irish SMEs top online EU salesSmall businesses in Ireland lead the way for selling goods online across the whole of the EU, according to the findings of a new report.

The European Digital Progress Report for 2016 positioned Irish SMEs as leading the way for the sale of online goods for the second consecutive year.

Research found that nearly a third of all Irish organisations (32.1%) now have e-commerce facilities for their customers — more than half the EU average at 16.7%.

The report by the European Commission also put businesses in Ireland top for the integration of digital technology, having ranked third in 2015.

Irish SMEs were also placed fist e-commerce turnover and selling online cross-border.

The digital strategy of Irish organisations was also recognised in the report with the country ranked second for its use of social media. Around 35% use social sites to promote their services or goods in Ireland, compared to a European average of only 18%.

Sean Kelly, an Irish MEP for Fine Gael, said it was crucial businesses adopted a digital strategy to increase sales and awareness of products.

He commented: “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.”

But the findings also revealed how Irish organisations still lag behind European counterparts. The number of ICT professionals is not meeting demand and almost half of organisations raised difficulties in employing a specialist.

Irish firms are below the European average (36%) for Electronic Information Sharing with only a quarter swapping data online.

Despite leading the way in certain areas of the digital economy, Ireland’s overall DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) position of 8th in the EU is still behind the UK in 6th.

UK firms fell way behind for selling online (20%), e-commerce turnover (8%) and selling online cross-border (9%). However, the number of people using the internet across the country and those with basic digital skills were both significantly higher. The number of ICT specialists working in organisations was also slightly higher.

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