Over the last two years, online shopping in Ireland has skyrocketed. According to eCommerce DB, Ireland’s online retail sales totalled €2.5bn in 2019, up by 17% from the previous year. Revenue in Ireland’s eCommerce market is projected to reach 4.9 million US dollars by 2025, with the fashion segment making up a quarter of this.
And with the Covid-19 crisis having forced us all to stay at home, the country’s eCommerce market is set to grow even further as customers who may have ordinarily shopped in-store become accustomed to shopping online.
This rise in online shopping is great news for e-retailers but with a predominantly scattered rural population, locating customers in Ireland accurately can be tricky.
So, with a burgeoning online market to capitalise on, how can retail businesses shipping to Ireland ensure they are reaching the right customers quickly and efficiently? The answer: Eircode.
What is Eircode?
Eircode is Ireland’s postcode system that launched in July 2015. It was created to help businesses pinpoint every individual’s address in Ireland, improving the delivery experience for both customer and retailer.
More than 35% of addresses in Ireland (almost 680,000) don’t have a house name or number, and many share their address with at least one other property, making it extremely tricky for those delivering goods and services.
In fact, prior to Eircode, for many people living in rural areas, their address was simply their name and their townland. Postal workers would have to rely on their local knowledge of rural areas and residents – a skill they’d perfected over decades. But for those unfamiliar with the area, getting a delivery to the right address was somewhat of a logistical challenge.
Eircode overcame this issue by assigning a unique identifier code to each residential and business address in the country.
What is the difference between Eircode and postcode?
Postcodes and ZIP codes are strings of numbers and letters that represent groupings of people in specific geographic areas. They are a high-integrity source of demographic information and companies can use postcodes for diverse and important use cases.
However, they often cover multiple dwellings which can make finding a customer’s correct address more challenging if houses are named rather than numbered.
Eircode on the other hand gives every address in Ireland its own unique identifier, making properties and businesses – particularly those in more remote areas – easier to find.
Residents don’t need to apply for an Eircode. They are assigned to all official postal addresses in Ireland and simply added to the end of each address. The use of Eircode isn’t mandatory but many businesses shipping to Ireland now ask for it at the checkout stage to ensure parcels and goods arrive on time and to the right location.
How popular is Eircode with the Irish public?
Despite some initial hesitation from residents and politicians when Eircode was first launched six years ago, the system has now well and truly found its feet.
A recent study revealed that 72% of Irish households use their Eircode regularly, with 70% using the system specifically for online shopping.
What’s more, the latest figures from the DECC (Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications) show that there have been 18.3 million searches for Eircodes on the online finder since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year – a 42% surge on the same period last year.
The scheme has been so well received that other countries such as Bulgaria and Malaysia are looking at adopting the Irish model, according to the Irish Times.
What are the business benefits of using Eircode?
With a growing eCommerce market but a historically difficult-to-navigate addressing system, Eircode data is essential for any business delivering goods in Ireland. Those who adopt the system when capturing customer details can expect:
Better customer experience
If Irish customers can't find their address using your lookup tool, they'll likely abandon their purchase. Making the checkout experience as seamless as possible and offering additional data sets like Eircode will not only improve user experience but reassure customers that their correct delivery details have been captured.
Reduced failed deliveries
We know that when addresses are accurate or incomplete, 41% of deliveries are delayed and 39% simply fail. Eircode adds another concrete layer of information to help retailers and couriers deliver accurately and on time, improving last mile results.
As a retailer, providing your courier company with accurate delivery details ensures that you won’t pay the price of failed deliveries. In some cases, some couriers will only work with retailers who provide verified addressing data or offer a preferential rate to those that do.
How do I access Eircode data?
At Loqate, we recognise the importance of accurate data and great customer experience. That’s why we offer Eircode data as a premium data set. The Eircode Address File (ECAF) contains the Eircode and USP postal address, which provides you with the accurate data you need on your website or in your CRM. As well as this, we provide access to the Eircode Address Database (ECAD), which contains additional data such as geo-coordinates and alias address information.