Archive for category Internet & Computers

Was 2010 the year for eCommerce? Will Irish retailers begin to smell the coffee?

Supermarket check out, London January 2005 Aut...
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Over the Christmas you probably noticed a lot of retailers out on various news reports complaining about poor sales (as they like to at Christmas) and in most cases with great reason too. I personally still find it hard to believe how many of the retail outlets in Ireland are still in business. The double blow of the recession and the god awful snow that engulfed Ireland and the UK for nearly 3 weeks certainly didn’t do anything to help their falling sales. But, for many reasons, I just can’t bring myself to feeling 100% sorry for these retailers.

It’s not that I am a cynical and bitterly twisted man that makes me feel this way. And I am certainly not a hardcore socialist who would sticks two fingers up at all retailers and say “ha, you should have treated your staff better!”. No, I’m just someone who has worked in the Internet for over 10 years now and have seen so many Irish retailers ignore the great benefits a properly prepared online web strategy.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is the phrase mentioned by one Irish great that sticks out in my mind when I think of how Irish retailers have ignored such a valuable resource to their business.

In the UK, it’s been reported that 44% of their population upped their online spend this Christmas compared to 2009. The total amount spent online in the UK was £2.8bn !! Another interesting fact is that 86% of UK consumers logged on to the Internet on Christmas and St. Stephens day a 10% increase on the previous year. 62% of those consumers shopped for sale items over those two days!

John Lewis say that their online sales in the 5 weeks to January the first accounted for £500m. And I guess it’s no surprise that the leading retailers online (after Amazon & eBay) were Argos, Next and M&S.

When you see figures like this, it amazes me to think that Irish retail businesses still don’t take their online business serious enough.

Let’s take a list of Irish retailers and see how they compare with their UK counterparts…

Harvey Normanwww.harveynorman.ie
Although it appears to be sitting on an eCommerce system, namingly Magento – there is no option to buy online. Maybe they need the footfall to generate some cross sells – but there are other ways of getting people into the store – and not many people were venturing out in the snow! They don’t seem to have a UK site (if they are even there!)

Curryswww.currys.ie
Much the same as Harvey Norman – display lots of products, but don’t allow you to buy (from what I can see). You can buy online from their websites in the UK.

River Islandwww.riverisland.com
River Island have a nice website and you can purchase online – albeit in sterling and not 100% sure if you can get it delivered to Ireland (or pick up in store!)

Boots - www.boots.ie
I don’t know about you, but if I could have bought items online through the Boots website I would have! Anyone who has ever tried to buy perfume through somewhere like Amazon knows that they simply won’t deliver to you. A golden opportunity for someone like Boots to make a few quid online. And can you imagine those great 3 for 2 offers… oh I wish… of course, you can do this online if you live in the UK.

Dunnes Storeswww.dunnesstores.ie
A great Irish brand with, it must be said, a visually appealing website – but no you can’t buy online. A place I would have definitely bought online over the Christmas period as I desperately searched for 2 turkeys for Christmas Dinners!!

I could easily go on and on but I won’t…

There are of course some exceptions to what appears to be the rule. You will find some retailers with decent enough websites, but by on large they just don’t exist.

As usual, it tends to be the smaller, lesser known retailers that appear to take their online presence more serious in Ireland – but even those are far and few between. When we have a country next door to us spending nearly £3bn online at Christmas it seems ridiculous that there aren’t more retailers taking a serious look at trying to grab a piece of this with a proper online marketing strategy.

The Celtic Tiger as we know was really good for Ireland, but the current lack of interest in making a serious online effort to generate business is an indication of how well we actually had it. “Ah sure I don’t need to sell to online, sure there’s plenty of business already….”

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Mobile Website Design – Is it time to offer a mobile version of your website?

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I guess it’s not really surprising that mobile web browsing is continuing to grow at lightening fast pace. The sheer amount of people who carry a web enabled portable device has grown significantly over the past couple of years. A lot this growth is of course due to the massive success of the iPhone. Like, it wouldn’t be strange if your granny had an iPhone nowadays, yet she probably didn’t have an Internet connection before she owned one!

Of course, browsing the web through a mobile device is by no means a new phenomenon, it’s something that has been available for quite some time. In reality though, most people didn’t bother using the web on their phone to access the Internet and with good reason. One obvious reason, was that it could be quite expensive to access the web on your mobile phone. And secondly, viewing websites on a mobile could be at best, extremely annoying. Websites simply weren’t built to cater for mobile devices.

Even today, most businesses don’t bother providing a mobile alternative of their website. In fairness, most mobile phone web browsers are pretty good at allowing you to view full websites quite easily. However, they are not perfect. Most of the larger and more popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, CNN and Google automatically offer you a slimmed down, mobile version of their website when you visit from a mobile device. Navigating around a pupose built website is always a lot more fun than having difficulty choosing and clicking on links of interest, even with a decent mobile phone browser.

Recently, on one of my own websites I was shocked to notice that over 10% of the traffic to the website (over 1,200 unique visitors) on one given day was from mobile devices. You might say I missed the boat a little, but for me this was a clear indication that the growth in the use of the web from a mobile device now warrants a mobile friendly website.

Look, I’ve been there in the WAP days. I’ve built WAP websites… what a disaster. There were a lot of issues with WAP, but I just don’t see those issues arising with the current state of play. As long as pricing for data packages from the mobile phone providers continue to decrease and people buy web enable devices, it just seems to be the way people will start viewing the web.

73 Million iPhones have been sold since they were launched and I think it’s safe to assume that a lot of those that own one, have also used the App Store to buy an app or two. A process that is very straight forward – in fact probably more straight forward than any website you’ve ever visited. Would you have envisaged many people buying items with their phone, through the web 5 years ago? Probably, but you probably thought it would take more than 5 years to get there!

For me, there has never been a better time to get your website mobile. Things are only going to get better. Already the sale of Android enable phones is out stripping the growth seen by the iPhone. It’s clear to me that the mobile web has arrived and is in full swing!

And of course, developing mobile websites is something we do at 2bscene – so if you have a project, why not have a chat with us and we’ll see where we can help you. Call us on +353 1 2190223

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IEDR to give 10 SME’s a €10k Website Grant

.ie: Ireland's official Internet address
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The Irish Domain registry, the IEDR have created a €100,000 fund to help boost SME e-commerce. The idea of the fund will be to identify 10 SME’s who can take advantage of a €10,000 grant to to build an eCommerce website to help grow their business online. In an age where online buying continues to grow significantly, only 21% of Irish companies with websites have the ability to handle transactions online.

I’m personally delighted to see this incentive from the IEDR and it’s something that the government really should take note of. This incentive by the IEDR will help 10 businesses start to trade online and see the true potential that the web can bring their business.

I don’t say it often about the IEDR, but “Well Done” on this one – great idea!

As of now, I’m not sure how one goes about being included in the process for being selected, but when I find out I’ll post it here.

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NCT Centre Finder App for Android (iPhone too!)

 

If you have ever worked close to an NCT Centre, you are probably familiar with constantly being asked for directions to the nearest NCT Centre. Our offices are based right next door to one very busy centre, Deansgrange NCT Centre. In fairness, it’s not the most obvious of locations and until a couple of months ago, the estate didn’t even exist on Google Maps.

It became quite frustrating when every day on my way to lunch I would be stopped and asked for directions,  when the person asking was parked literally right in front of it. Maybe it’s just my old age, but I ended up resorting to just pointing a finger in the direction of the centre to anyone that started slowing down as I passed their car – I just knew what they were going to ask.

So when at a meeting with a local client who also works from Deansgrange Business Park, discussed the annoyance of this in, they suggested “wouldn’t it be great if their was an app for directions to NCT centres…”!!

We thought this was a great idea and set out to design and develop it as our first Android App.

So here it is!!

The NCT Centre Finder App is FREE and available on the Android App Market. Just search for “NCT” in the market place and you should be able to find it quite easily.

Currently the app is very simple, it lists NCT Centres by county and A-Z. We’ve built it in such a way that most functions can be run offline without a connection to the Internet. So you can see simple maps and addresses etc. Another simple tool we added was a “Checklist”. The checklist is a simple tool that lists all the items needed in preparation for your NCT test.

We wanted to do so much more with this app, but thought we should let it fly first and see if anyone is interested in using it. Please email us with any suggestions or items you’d like added and we’ll see what we can do!

The App is also available for the iPhone, simply visit www.2bscene.ie/nct on your iPhone Web Browser and it will run from there. You can also add it to your desktop on your iPhone, which will mean you will have a lovely glossy icon on your desktop.

And of course – if you’d like an iPhone or Android app for your business – why not call us and see what we can do for you!

P.S. For those who just want to have a nosey look, you can visit www.2bscene.ie/nct in Safari Browser to get an idea of what the App does.

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Irish Healthcare Awards 2010

I was delighted to be invited to the Irish Healthcare Awards which was held in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin last night. A client of ours, was up for an award for a site we developed for them – www.mylocalgp.ie

I’m absolutely delighted that they won an award, it’s a true testament to the work they’ve already put in and the work they will be putting in to get the site off the ground.

The system we built for them, basically allows GP’s and medical practices create their own website through an easy to use management system. They plan to roll this out to GPs and medical practices throughout the country. This will give hundreds of GPs their own website that they wouldn’t have had without this system. I know it will be a great success for them and wish them the best in the future.

It was a good night all round for 2bscene, we also had another client, www.tcdmedday.com received a commendation for all their great work too!

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