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Ireland as an eCommerce powerhouse?

The €4.5 billion Irish eCommerce question

Did you know that €4.5 billion worth of eCommerce revenue leaves Ireland every year? That’s money that Irish retailers could be capturing, but right now… they just aren’t. This situation needs to change. Our #HubTalks event is the first step in that journey.

Every day in my career as a talent spotter here at TalentHub, I deal with people involved in the industry in Ireland. We are brim-full of innovative thinkers who are an asset to any business. But the question has to be asked. What can we do to stop that huge amount of money flowing out of the country every year?

We want to see what domestic eCommerce companies can do to increase their share when it comes to the Irish retail market. With the value of online spending set to double between now and 2021 (from €7.5 billion to €14.1 billion) this is the most exciting time to be working in eCommerce.

But about 60 percent (€4.5 billion right now) of Irish online shopping still goes abroad. That’s why we’re on a mission to see what can be done to stop this valuable revenue leaving our economy.

eCommerce on a global stage

The reason we’re saying that this event could be worth €4.5 billion to the Irish economy is because there is no reason that Irish eCommerce companies cannot compete on a global stage.

Here at TalentHub, we partner with these companies every day so we know the level of talent and potential that is out there. We are not saying this because we are Dublin’s most innovative recruitment agency, but because everyone will win if we can help Irish businesses succeed.

Even if we managed to regain 10 percent of that market, that would provide a €450 million boost to the Irish economy. We’ve calculated that would create an extra 10,000 jobs. So, from large corporations to smaller-scale ventures, it’s a challenge that affects everyone. Every single one of us will benefit from finding the solution.

It’s not as simple as ‘Buy Irish’

Thinking about possible solutions, I reached out to our team of eCommerce experts whether a Government-backed ‘Buy Irish campaign’ could work. We all know that this was tried in Ireland before the internet was a mass market tool and their responses were very interesting indeed.

Head of Multichannel from DID Electrical, Richard Moyles, pointed out that it would only work for Irish-made products, whereas we need to address retail for all products and services.

“For us, consumers are driven by price and convenience,” he says. “This is why we need something more nuanced than a simple ‘Buy Irish’ campaign for our business. The UK vat rate is 20 percent, we operate in a market that has 23 percent: every percent matters.”

eCommerce Manger for McCabes Pharmacy, James O’Sullivan echoes this sentiment saying “such a campaign could only work if there were tax saving incentives to be had for buying from Irish stores.”

Over at Avoca, Head of Online, Ian Snipper, believes it’s a question of awareness-raising. “Irish people are so used to buying from UK websites that they need reminding of the impact this is having on Irish retailers,” he says.

Competing on our own turf

Philip Sullivan, eCommerce Manager with EZ Living Furniture adds that the quality is there, but that “a lot of Irish customers are not aware that, quite a lot of the time, better prices, better service and faster delivery times are available at Irish eCommerce stores.”

“There may be better ways to improve our eCommerce situation,” Avoca’s Ian Snipper adds. “For example, Enterprise Ireland only support export-focused companies, and for eCommerce this needs to change because we are competing with foreign companies on our own turf.”

Edel Kinane, Marketing Director at Just Eat says that the challenge for Irish eCommerce companies is to make sure their offerings are relevant to the consumer.

“Increasingly people are using their phone as their wallet, with the vast majority of purchasing happening from their smartphone. The challenge is to continue to come up with innovative ways to reach our customers and potential customers, offer them choices that are relevant to how they live, while at all times delivering a great customer service.

Alan Coleman, CEO of Wolfgang Digital, however, says that he views the situation as a potential win for the Irish economy at large.

“For two years, the online economy has been growing nine times faster than the wider Irish economy,” he explains. “Irish eCommerce websites showed extraordinary levels of revenue growth in 2016, and we can expect this to continue. The online spend represents six percent of the Irish economy, however, in the advanced UK market, online’s share of spend is as high as 16 percent.

“The €500 billion European eCommerce market is more than double the size of the UK eCommerce market. We have more to gain from successfully penetrating this market than we do to lose from the UK floating up and away towards Iceland.”

Setting the eCommerce agenda

As you can tell from the above, there are a range of interesting opinions out there about how Ireland can improve its lot when it comes to eCommerce. That’s why we’ve organised a fast-moving evening of inspiration, ideas, networks, sharing and more, aimed at solving this problem. We’re gathering some of the most inspiring thought leaders from the industry and we’re bringing them together at the BOI Workbench, 1 Grand Canal Dock in Dublin’s Docklands, from 6 to 8pm on June 8.

On the night, we’ll be joined by;

Gordon Newman – who, as head of Multi-Channel at Life Style Sports, has guided his company to record growth over the last three years and will speak about how to grow an Irish eCommerce business.

Ian Snipper – who has led Avoca to becoming one of Ireland’s most innovative eCommerce retailers in Ireland. He will explain how he did this along with giving key advice on how to select the right eCommerce platform for your business.

Vinny O’Brien – what Vinny O’Brien doesn’t know about eCommerce isn’t worth knowing. He’s worked with eBay, eCommerce start up, and at retail giant, Arnott’s. From his time working with Enterprise Ireland he’ll be giving us the lowdown on what is available in terms of eCommerce support within the industry.

And myself, Morgan Cummins. Working with TalentHub, we partner with the most innovative Irish eCommerce companies. Some of our partners have said we are the most innovative recruitment agency in Dublin so who are we to argue?! I’ll speak about how Irish companies can increase their share as well as my insights about how to attract the right staff.

Want to learn how to interpret the patterns?

We have relationships with people across the spectrum of Irish eCommerce businesses and we help them to overcome challenges and reach their potential every day. We see the patterns emerge in eCommerce before they are recognised as patterns and I want to share these insights at Hubtalks:

At #Hubtalks, the first in a series of Hub events, we’ll hear from our speakers, and then begin networking and sharing to develop solutions for all of us, continuing to post-event drinks at HQ Hanover Quay. To enquire about joining us on June 8, and see the full programme, click here for more information.

Morgan CumminsAuthor: Morgan Cummins

Morgan is an experienced marketer who has been lucky enough to work in markets like Australia, the Middle East and Ireland over the last 15 years. He has experience in building new brands, running an ad agency and hiring the best talent for his clients.


Tel:01 634 4885

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