Image above,  Min Mitchell O’Connor, Eoin Costello, Digital Dun Laoghaire, Oonagh McCutcheon, IE Domain Registry, Colin Chapman Microsoft, Pieter Lemstra, Profitero

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor  launched the Digital Dún Laoghaire Action Plan, outlining key goals for turning Dún Laoghaire into Ireland’s next Digital Centre to create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

(To read more about the official launch by the Minister of the Digital Dún Laoghaire Action Plan, please click the link at the end of this article)

Following the Minister’s launch the regular MeetUp got underway and the topic under discussion was:

Digital Transformation – Do or Die for Retailers?

Consumers have access to more information and purchasing power than ever before. With rapidly changing technology and devices available, the knock-on effect has reshaped retail markets. Online shopping is increasing and becoming more mobile as two-thirds of Irish people now own a smartphone and tablet penetration in Ireland is at 40%.

The consequences of these changes and what it means to global and Irish retailers were put to the expert panel, Oonagh McCutcheon, Operations Manager, IE Domain Registry, Colin Chapman, Consumer Channel Lead, Microsoft, and Pieter Lemstra, Director of Sales EMEA at Profitero, by Eoin Costello Digital Connector, Digital Dún Laoghaire.

What are Irish consumers doing in their purchasing decisions, what is changing?

Oonagh McCutcheon replied that consumers are carrying out more research online and finding out more information about their purchases. They’re making comparisons and reading reviews. They also want convenience. She warned:

Absence from an online presence is a very big mistake.

She listed many of the technology changes that are growing in popularity and which are impacting the retail industry:

– Internet of Things (IoT)

– Advanced technology

– Click and collect

– Video

– Peak online shopping times between 6pm and 8pm

– Online payments

Colin Chapman, Microsoft said:

It’s not just the big things;  it’s about making life simpler and more convenient for the consumer, e.g. ordering your lunch online.

There’s no doubt that consumer behaviour is changing. Businesses need to be aware of when their customers are online e.g. travelling to and from work and the devices they’re using.

Pieter Lemstra, agreed.  He advised businesses to be smart. To push advertising though Google, Facebook and other channels using tools that can set times to target consumers when they’re online.


How are retailers transforming on a global and Irish basis?

The expert panel gave some  examples of how major global retailers are transforming and setting new trends:

Shopping: Amazon Go –  ‘Check-Out Free Stores’: Just Walk Out Technology

Manufacturing: 3D shoes – old craft new technology

Delivering:  Shutl: a UK company allowing people to have complete control over deliveries.

Innovation and Consolidation: there’s much consolidation happening in the retail space. Walmart acquired  an e-commece savvy company for $3.5 million so that it can compete with Amazon.

Examples of Irish businesses who have successfully embraced digital transformation included The Organic Supermarket,  Ouzos Bar and Grill, and McElhinneys: now selling more to Australia than to Ireland

Company Spotlight

Mens Hair Co Dún Laoghaire & Bray

This company opened for business in 2014. Its success depended largely on the loyal clientele of Jason Brophy, Director/Senior Stylist which he built up during his career. Through the power of social media and word of mouth, his clientele grew and one man was no longer enough. He hired four more skilled staff to meet the demands of his growing business.

Jason explained how using social media and his ‘online anytime booking and prepayment system’ work successfully for him. Through Facebook he connects and engages with his clients. He posts and pushes out information for them when he knows they are likely to be online, between 6pm and 10 pm or before 9am.

Clients can book appointments online anytime via the Mens Hair website. They pay before they go.

The benefits to his business are:

– reduces payment time for clients and staff in the shop

– prevents ‘no-shows’ or cancellations

– bookings are scheduled and known in advance

What are the practical ways businesses can leverage the internet?

The panel advised retailers to have websites that are transactional and optimised for mobile and tablet devices and to use free online tools e.g. Test how mobile-friendly your site is. Other suggestions included:

– To source knowledgeable bloggers, and access Google and Facebook support teams in order to gain useful insights and data on customers’ transactions and behaviours.

– Measure successes and build on them: Google Analytics.

– Hire employees who can use online channels to connect with customers.

– Buy something from their own websites.

– Listen to customers to avoid a disconnection between online and offline communication and expectations.

– Decided exactly what you want your website to do for you.

– Use a business email to build customer trust and a domain name that’s relevant to your own company.

– Fulfil orders timely and have Terms and Conditions clearly stated on your website.

Life Time Value, win fans, share rich content with them and don’t lose them.

– Be aware of and optimise Omnichannel strategies for customers to consolidate, and simplify their online experience.

Aoife McIlraith, of Lionbridge added that the benefit of digital is that everything can be measured. That it’s important to know your customer – to create personas and not to try to get everybody. To make websites that are mobile-friendly for Google search results because not doing so can negatively impact on rankings.

What are the opportunities for Dún Laoghaire of Digital Transformation?

Here are some of the many opportunities and suggestions put forward by the panel and other attendees:

– Focus on Smart Cities like Amsterdam and Living Labs.

– Create a Dún Laoghaire eStreet.

– Revamp Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre and take advantage of footfall there.

– Encourage innovation between retailers and tech companies.

– Businesses should track their inventory of stock and use back stock to trade online.

– The talent pool in Dublin is unique recruit from it.

A cultural change for the retail sector to get online is required what help is available?

Minister Mitchell O’Connor spoke of how Retail Excellence Ireland and Retail Ireland Skillnet are helping retail businesses in practical ways to meet these cultural changes.

She reiterated:

The trend is online shopping – the genie is out of the bottle!

Other financial supports and initiatives were discussed, many of which have already been covered in previous Digital Dún Laoghaire MeetUp articles including New Year – New Start – New BusinessFunding Your Growth Through Bank Finance

Minister Mitchell O’Connor and Anthony Quigley Chairman of the Dún Laoghaire Business Improvement District (BID) thanked Digital Connector Eoin Costello for his fantastic work to-date on the Digital Dún Laoghaire initiative.

To read the Irish Tech News article: Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches Digital Action Plan to Transform Dún Laoghaire “click here”.

Date for your diary:

Book your place for the May Digital Dún Laoghaire Monthly Morning MeetUp:

Topic: How to make your digital company investor ready – Everything you need to know

Venue: Starbucks Coffee Shop, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire

Date: Wednesday 17 May 2017

Time: 7.30am

Photographs by: Antony Ramirez Ferrigno team member, Digital Dún Laoghaire

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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