Joan Mulvihill’s response to Irish Independent article “Irish consumers to spend €20bn online by 2020 but strategy needed” please click here to read.
This is an interesting article. The stats are ones that have been touted for quite some time so there is nothing new there. What is interesting about this article is not what it says but rather what it does not say. There has been talk for ages now of a National Digital Strategy, which according to this article is “underway” and will be implemented in the “coming years”. And yet, it is not even this rather slow pace that is of interest to me. What interests me is the dearth of even headline ideas/concepts or indeed the nature of the ‘brave decisions’ that need to be made. My sense is that some of the strategy makers believe that supporting Irish retailers to have ecommerce websites is the answer to the problem. If only more Irish retailers would sell their products online then people wouldn’t shop from overseas anymore. I’m unconvinced.
The IIA has long supported Irish businesses developing their online sales proposition to enhance their relationship with their customers; through the provision of better value, better range and more choice. But that is not to say that every retailer should have their own site. Some need to take a more creative approach to channel management.
An understanding of consumer behaviour is required. Shoppers are not buying from Amazon or Net-A-Porter or ASOS because of the dearth of books, toys or clothes to buy from Irish retailers online. They are buying from Amazon, Net-a-Porter and ASOS because of their breadth of range, their pricing and ultimately free or comparatively low cost to ship. It costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town when I’m shopping. It definitely costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town, buy something and post it to New York to my godchild for her birthday. And so if I look online to Irish independent retailers, it is clear that they are hampered and disadvantaged by expensive shipping costs relative to the price of the item and short delivery times are a serious premium.
It is incredibly difficult for Irish retailers to compete. The National Digital Strategy element that deals with ecommerce has to encapsulate the infrastructure that supports ecommerce. And that infrastructure includes a lot more than quality broadband.
The size of the Irish market is small. Irish retailers’ capacity to reach scale and enjoy any economies of that scale requires vision for developing an international presence. We solicit the best tech companies in the world to set up in Ireland, many of whom provide online sales services. Is that the kernel of a solution? I want to support Irish independent retailers by ensuring they have the tools that they need to market their products/services but unless we sort out the infrastructure and the ambition for international retail then only a small number can achieve the scale needed to succeed. Perhaps our best bet for getting the Irish consumer to buy online from businesses in Ireland is to attract the ecommerce giants to HQ in Ireland. We’ve secured the tech companies that support them so why not secure them directly.
The strategy for achieving this would be predicated on having the best online sales specialists, fulfillment/operations planners, designers, digital advertisers and customer service operators based in Ireland with localised fulfillment centres overseas. We could incentive these businesses to operate through Ireland with a special online sales tax incentive and develop Ireland as an ecommerce hub for the sale of goods AND services online. Combined with the digital content strategy of the IDSC, ecommerce for digital content (books, music, film) in addition to the sale of physical goods might all be funnelled through Ireland as the uniquely placed global ecommerce hub.
This is what interests me. This article might not be revealing anything new or insightful but it stimulates thought. Creativity exists within the cracks.
The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
The hallowed day has arrived. Actually it arrived on 27th June but I have been busy training my new colleague Vicki in advance of my departure from the IIA so apologies for not noting this sooner on the blog.
But before you dash off I thought I would draw your attention to our new categories.
We have done away with a few (sorry!), updated three (mobile app developer, social media & digital marketing) and created 4 entirely new categories:
- Best Open Data Initiative
- Best Breakthrough Brick to Click
- Best Cloud Service
- Best Rookie
We’re particularly excited about these 4 categories (yes, yes, of course, you’re all winners to us) because they reflect changing technologies, society and practices. We devised Best Breakthrough Brick to Click to recognise some of the amazing cases we’ve heard about over the last year and a half or so while running our 8 Ways series for Online Retailers (although nominees don’t have to be just retailers!). Best Rookie was devised to recognise not only graduates who are making a splash in online business but also those who have made a change to their career to get involved in any aspect of online business.
After the success of Open for Business it made perfect sense for us to celebrate Open Data Initiatives and we’re hoping the shortlist will be an inspiration to many other initiatives in the future. Best Cloud Service acknowledges some of the fabulous and innovative cloud projects that have grown up, many of them wholly Irish, in the last few years.
So now you are dismissed to go and nominate to your heart’s content. Nominations close 29 July 2011.
This review is part of a series of reviews that you can expect to see over the next while from the Social Media Working Group. This first one is by Eamonn O’Brien, Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club. Here he reviews The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, by Joan Curtis and Barbara Giamanco:
This book offers an introductory guide for people who need to figure out how to both understand and harness social media in a world where traditional sales techniques may have had their day. As such, it probably won’t serve as more than light reading for seasoned social media pros.
The authors spend the first half of the book outlining the revolution that has occurred in the way businesses and customers/consumers communicate – and why companies need to learn how to adapt to a new sales era, dubbed Sales 2.0. They argue that since customers are now more in control of what they buy, and have instant access to more information prior to when they make purchase decisions, that a modern form of consultative selling (which integrates the power of social media to develop better relationships, trust and customer collaboration) needs to be used as a replacement for traditional push based selling techniques.
While there are many nuggets to be found in the first 8 chapters, including author observations, examples of how politicians and companies are adapting to/benefiting from communication changes plus a quite interesting potted history lesson on the evolution of selling approaches from the 19th to the 21st century, much of the information provided at the outset of the book appears to be rehashing of stories and observations that have been doing the rounds for some time (online and offline). Also, many of the points made in the first half of the books seemed be endless variations of a single theme; “Embrace the new technology… move away from old sales approaches, they won’t work any longer with the 21st century buyer”.
That said, the second half of the book (when the authors get into a more ‘how to’ mode) is likely to prove both interesting and genuinely useful to anyone who needs practical suggestions on how to harness social media for sales and marketing purposes. The authors did an especially good job on how Sales meets LinkedIn and Sales meets Twitter, including really helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ tips.
Also, their observations on how to use blogging to drive better Google site rankings together with their suggested ‘rules of engagement for bloggers’ are spot on. But the real value in this book comes at the end, with a case study style 30 day social media sales challenge. This blow by blow demonstration of how social media can be used and why – together with suggestions re goal setting and performance measuring – sold me on this book, all on its own.
My Overall Book Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks a million Eamonn! More from the authors on their website.
At the start of 2009 we undertook a survey among Irish businesses that already have blogs. We asked them a number of questions to try and understand the objectives of their blogging activities, what results they were seeing and how much time and effort they put into managing their blogs.
We will be discussing the results in detail at the Business Blogging breakfast briefing on April 22nd, but in the meantime here are the high-level survey results:
IIA Members iQContent have launched iQPrize. They want to help grow a good idea into a great business and they would like to hear from everyone and anyone. They plan to invest EUR10,000 in the idea that impresses them most. Closing date for entries is May 12th and at time of writing they had 16 entries. Not bad odds.
Find out more at iQPrize.ie or watch the video below where Morgan McKeagney, iQContent CEO explains all.
I have some great ideas for the IIA website that EUR10,000 could put a serious dent in; maybe I should have a wee chat with them…
While I’m not suggesting that you spend $695.00 on the report Podcasting: Into the Mainstream from eMarketer. (Do by all means if you like ) eMarketer does share some interesting statistics about the growth in popularity of the podcast among US internet users.
The US podcast audience is ballooning, and eMarketer projects that growth will continue at least through 2013. By then, there will be 37.6 million people who download podcasts monthly, more than double the 2008 figure of 17.4 million.
As a percentage of Internet users, podcast downloaders are expected to grow from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2013.
Much of the time where US internet use goes, Irish internet use follows. (Though not always!) For businesses podcasting can be a very effective way to show your expertise in your area; share tips with your customers about your products and services; and to develop customer loyalty among many other benefits. The IIA Social Media Working Group are going to workshop the draft of their Guide to Business Podcasting. This is an opportunity to participate in the creation of this guide and hopefully learn something new in the process. Both newbies and old hands are welcome but please register.
If you would like to get an idea of how the workshop will shape up, appropriately enough you can listen to the podcast of the workshop of the draft Guide to Business Blogging created by Krishna De last December. Krishna will also be facilitating this workshop so expect plenty of nuggets!
Next Tuesday will see the start of a new series of guest posts from the IIA Social Media Working Group. This series will focus on case studies of Irish businesses using Social Media in innovative or effective ways and each week will see a different member of the group deliver a case. So a lot of variety and a day off the blogging for me – a win win situation for us all
Brendan Hughes, the chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group, shares some of his thoughts on business uses of Social Media in a recent blog post. He examines in particular how the web has developed a dichotomous existence with transactional relationships on one side and social relationships on the other. Really successful internet businesses or businesses on the internet are bringing these two relationships together.
While there is no rush per se, nominations being open until 27th March, why not do it now before you forget? The next thing you know it will be Paddy’s Day and suddenly the 27th will be upon us and you will be cursing as you try and fill in 15 whole categories in one go. Do them at your leisure. Do one a day. Just do it!
Last week we kicked off the Feedback Friday feature with Pressieport.ie. I don’t mind telling you that the post was the most popular on this blog in the last month and the feedback Fred Schelbaum received was second to none. Not long after the post went live I got an email from Fred with the subject line, “WOW!” so he was very happy too. So well done to all the commenters and Twitterers who helped out.
This week our featured site for Feedback Friday is Puddleducks. Aedan Ryan, director of Puddleducks, sent me the following to help you fabulous feedbackers:
PuddleDucks is an online retailer of outdoor clothing clothes for children and adults. Our best selling items are the waterproof dungarees, jackets and suits for younger children.
What I would like to achieve from Feedback Friday is to get feedback and make improvements to our Home Page so we can try to reduce the bounce rate from visitors to the site.
Therefore I’d appreciate feedback on some of the following:
- initial impression of our Home Page
- layout of the Home Page
- is it easy to know how to progress from the home page to start shopping on the site?
- are there any other design improvements we could make to the home page or the product pages?
- any other ideas on how to make shopping easier or encourage visitors to purchase
We’d also like to offer a 10% discount to all readers for any purchases until Sunday 8th Feb. Just use the discount coupon “iia12″. Please note that you need to be registered as a user on the site before you can redeem the coupon.
Thanks very much in advance for your feedback.
Again please keep the guidelines in mind when giving feedback and most of all, thanks very much!