The Digital Reality

picture of Mark Smith, Director of SME, eir Business

Mark Smith

Director of SME, eir Business

During 2014, e-commerce spending in Ireland increased by 30% to almost €5.6 billion, according to Visa. Breaking it down, Irish consumers spent €3.8 million online every minute on an average day. But there’s a problem: of those online purchases, a massive 75% is being spent on sites outside of Ireland, according to research by 256 Media.
The retail landscape has changed dramatically in a relatively short amount of time. The convenience of online shopping – shops are open 24/7 and there are no queues – as well as the ability to ‘shop around’ for deals has seen Irish consumers make the move to shopping online.

Online shopping is booming

In the past few years we’ve also seen American shopping trends such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday make their way across the Atlantic, driving massive retail spikes at the beginning of the Christmas holiday shopping season. On Cyber Monday in 2014, it’s estimated that Irish consumers spent as much as €22 million online. Prior to this online shopping bonanza Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash urged Irish consumers to ‘buy Irish’. “ We have some fantastic online retailers and the more money that is kept in this economy, the more jobs that will be sustained and created,” he said.

As trends like Black Friday and Cyber Monday become more ingrained in our society, it’s clear there’s a huge opportunity for Irish retailers, which would have a positive knock-on effect on the Irish economy. So far though, they’re not grabbing onto that opportunity with both hands; according Local Enterprise Office only 23% of SMEs are engaged in e-commerce activity.

Where do I start to get my business online?

Planning will be a key part of your e-commerce success. Whether you’re expanding an existing bricks and mortar business online or starting a brand new online business, you will need to know your products and your target audience. Spend time researching if there is a market for your product. Identify successful competitors and see what they’re doing. Explore their sites and review their selling process. If you plan on selling internationally explore the markets there too. Put in the ground work before you leap into setting up your e-commerce website. This will stand you in good stead as you make the move online.

Once you’ve established your plan a good next step is to contact your local enterprise board. The city and county enterprise network around the country is a key partner in the Getting Irish Business Online initiative, which is helping SMEs make the move online. The associated website, www.gettingbusinessonline.ie is a great resource for tips and tools and has a selection of success stories for inspiration.

E-commerce specialist Jim Cassidy of digital agency Isobar wrote an insight blog post recently which debunked the five most common myths associated with setting up an e-commerce website. Among those myths was “build it and they will come”. Jim makes it clear that running a successful e-commerce business doesn’t end once you have launched your site; it’s an ongoing process that you will need to monitor and tweak frequently. Read more insights from Jim here.

eir Business Solutions has recently launched its own online store in response to customer demand to be able to buy a wide range of broadband and mobile bundles and devices online. Our intuitive, easy-to-use online shop gives customers control over their order, and they can easily mix and match products to make a bundle that suits them. We will continue to make changes and additions to our online store over the coming months, so watch this space!

 

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