SMEs still not reaping benefits of e-commerce, says IEDR

David Curtin, IEDR
David Curtin, IEDR

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4 October 2016 | 0

SMEs must keep pace or risk Irish consumers looking elsewhere, said the IEDR at the launch of Ireland’s Internet Day. The one-day event will return for its second year on 27 October at the Mansion House in Dublin.

According to industry body Retail Excellence Ireland, consumers will spend €487 billion across Europe in 2016, with IEDR believing that Irish SMEs will miss out on their slice of this digital pie the longer they stay offline.

David Curtin, chief executive, IEDR, said: “More and more Irish SMEs are making the leap online and benefiting from e-commerce and online engagement with their customers. It’s a positive trend that is continuing, but a significant cohort of SMEs remains offline with no intention of building a website in the near future. Many aren’t aware of how being online can drastically improve their business and others feel like they don’t have the skills to do it.

“At Ireland’s Internet Day 2016 we want to break down these barriers. This year’s event aims to show SMEs how they can successfully develop or build an online presence, scale up their business using accessible and intuitive digital tools, and overtake the competition by learning from businesses and entrepreneurs that have been there and done that.”

According to its most recent dot ie Digital Health Index, 17% of Irish SMEs still have no digital assets and 55% don’t intend on building a website in the near future.

“SMEs can no longer afford to say that there is no need to have an online presence in their industry,” said Curtin. “The global digital marketplace is just a click away for consumers, who our research indicates will forsake brand loyalty for convenience, cost and accessibility. In the wake of Brexit and a weaker pound, it has never been more important for SMEs to stay relevant and competitive as consumers increasingly shop around for the best value from businesses in the UK, Europe and further afield. The competition for winning customers has never been fiercer for SMEs.”

Despite this new reality for businesses, only 38% of SMEs see websites as important in driving sales, a clear indicator that SMEs are yet to embrace, or tap into, the lucrative e-commerce market.

Only 29% of SMEs with a website can the take orders; 25% can process payments; and only 32% can take bookings and reservations on their website.

The keynote address will be delivered by Emma Sinclair MBE, who, at 29, was the youngest ever person to float a company on the London Stock Exchange. Her business, Target Parking, revolutionised the UK parking sector. She is now the CEO of business software developer EnterpriseJungle.

Also attending will be Sïmon Saneback, an award-winning Swedish entrepreneur and well-known figure in the Scandinavian e-commerce industry, and Jorij Abraham, director of research and advice at Ecommerce Europe.

Other contributors will include panellists from Hailo, Avoca and The Organic Supermarket.

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