Wednesday 25 April 2018

Irish businesses urged to improve their digital offering at online trade event

Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations in Europe, the Middle East & Africa at PayPal
Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations in Europe, the Middle East & Africa at PayPal
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

IRISH businesses must do more to harness online customers, from updating their Facebook page to getting their payment systems rights, according to a group of technology leaders speaking in Dublin this morning.

"Who here is proud of their website?" asked Google representative Dave O'Mahony at the online trading event for small businesses, held in Dublin's Aviva stadium. Very few hands were raised.

Facebook's European head of marketing Gareth Lambe, Google Ireland director Ronan Harris and PayPal vice president Louise Phelan all addressed the conference to urge Irish businesses to improve their online presence. Irish shoppers spent €4bn online last year, they stressed, but only 50pc of Irish retailers even have a website.

The event, taking place all day, is a joint effort to link Irish businesses and digital leaders run by Dublin Chamber of Commerce and tech conference Web Summit, which takes place in Dublin this week.

Facebook's small business marketing manager Felicity McCarthy gave several examples of Irish businesses whose revenues have jumped thanks to the optimisation of their Facebook profiles.

Walkinstown-based wool company Springwools, which had outlets around the country in the 1970s before it ran into difficulty, now does most of its business online. The company is very active on Facebook, where it interact regularly with Irish knitters. It now attributes 20pc of its sales to its Facebook activities.

Ms McCarthy also highlighted the success of Dublin-based Christmas clothing supplier Funky Christmas Jumpers. As the company does most of its business in one quarter, a physical shop open year-round is not cost-effective; instead it opens a pop-up shop in the Christmas season. The company estimates that 40pc of people visiting their pop-up shop last year had heard about it through Facebook.

Google representatives discussed The Irish Leprechaun Museum and The Gathering; both initiatives have  significantly improved revenues by using Google advertising system AdWords and tracking software Google Trends.

Google tools can also be helpful for retailers in terms of stock control, they added, referencing coffee device manufacturer Nespresso. Online searches among Irish internet users for Nespresso tend to jump in the run-up to the Christmas period. White goods retailers can track these results using free Google trend-tracking software, to anticipate customer demand and stockpile reserves.

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