Brexit-proofing your business has emerged as a key theme at Ireland’s Internet Day 2016, taking place in the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin next Thursday, 27 October.

The half-day SME event, which coincides with International Internet Day, will be officially opened by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, and will look at how SMEs can weather the Brexit storm, particularly in light of a weaker sterling.

With businesses gearing up for the Christmas shopping period, the event will look at how e-commerce can mitigate the risk that a weaker sterling presents, helping to win back customers that might otherwise migrate to sterling websites or cross-border shopping.

The Irish share of the digital marketplace is worth almost €9bn and there are huge opportunities available for businesses that successfully make the leap online.

However, for the cohort that remains offline – 1 in 6 SMEs, or 17%, still have no online presence whatsoever – the risk is considerable and may result in loss of business and customer loyalty.

Indeed, as smaller businesses are less able to absorb the shock of major economic and political events, in broadening their customer base through e-commerce, they can avoid the worst effects.

Ireland’s Internet Day 2016 will highlight the benefits of e-commerce and how SMEs can overcome other challenges, like exporting to international markets and lack of skills and time.

The event is hosted by the IE Domain Registry, whose Chief Executive, David Curtin, said: “More and more Irish SMEs are making the leap online and benefiting from e-commerce and increased online engagement with their customers. Although it is a growing trend, a significant cohort of SMEs still 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.

“SMEs can no longer afford to say that they don’t need an online presence. The global digital marketplace is just a click away for consumers, and, in the wake of Brexit and a weaker pound, it has never been more important for businesses 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.

“At Ireland’s Internet Day 2016, we want 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.

“In short, now is the time to take advantage of the digital revolution and we’ll show businesses how.”

Ireland’s Internet Day 2016 will directly address the barriers stopping SMEs getting online through a series of keynote address and discussions from leading Irish and international SMEs, digital innovators and entrepreneurs.

Delivering the headline address is Emma Sinclair who, at 29, was the youngest ever person to have floated a company on the London Stock Exchange. Emma went on to found Target Parking, which revolutionised the management of the parking and facilities sector across the UK. She now runs EnterpriseJungle, which is a hugely successful online management platform for businesses.

Last year, Emma was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her services to UK business, including championing online entrepreneurship amongst women and disadvantaged communities. She is also UNICEF’s first business mentor.

Joining Emma on the speaking line up is Allister Frost, former head of digital marketing strategy at Microsoft; Jorij Abraham, Dutch e-commerce expert and director of research and advice at the Dutch Ecommerce Association and Ecommerce Europe; and Simon Saneback, an award-winning Swedish entrepreneur.

There will also be a number of SME contributors including speakers from Hailo, AppliancesDelivered.ie, the online division of celebrated Irish retailer, Avoca; dog-sitting app, BorrowMyDoggy; Bizimply, WorldBOX.ie, Brandtone, The Organic Supermarket and more.

The event will be moderated by entrepreneur and Newstalk broadcaster Bobby Kerr.

Ireland’s Internet Day takes place at the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin on Thursday, 27 October.

See www.internetday.ie for the full event line up and to book your ticket.

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