Posts Tagged Christmas

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

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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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The Outbreak of Peace – Join the Cause

Irish singer/songwriter (and good friend), Francie Conway, has launched his new single “Outbreak of Peace” just in time for Christmas. Rather than waste an opportunity to promote his believe in World Peace, Francie posted Christmas Cards, with a CD of his song attached to the Worlds major leaders.Some of the people that have received this card include Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley, Barrack Obama, Dalai Lama, Gordon Brown and many others.

So why not join the cause for the “Outbreak of Peace”, you can become a member of the Outbreak of Peace Petition on Facebook by clicking here, or you can send the Christmas Card email with a message to your friends by clicking here.

If you’d like to download the track for free or just listen to it – click here

Send it on and let’s see if it makes a difference…..

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Shopping for Jewelry (Jewellery) Online

As I continue to search for Christmas presents online, I have to admit I still get quite frustrated with Irish retailers online.

Over the weekend I search for an online jewelry store to purchase a gift for my mother. Instantly I was bombarded with jewelry websites that I can only say have been “left behind” in terms of the Internet. It was extremely difficult to find any decent Irish jewelry shop where searching.

I did find one that looked like it did everything I was looking for – the famous House of Ireland store. Everything looked good for a while as I browsed through the site, there was plenty of choice unlike other sites I had visited. One thing stroke me though, the prices were displayed in US Dollars by default. As their shop in Dublin is hugely targeted at the US tourists, I thought, ah no big deal, I’ll just choose Euros from the drop down menu.

After doing this, I noticed the price difference was staggering. A Waterford Crystal vase was $260, but when converted to euro it was a huge €240. With today’s exchange rate, it should have been in the €200-205 price bracket. I assume the difference in price is because they have displayed the dollar price minus the VAT and when you change to euros, it instantly adds the VAT price on. This is all well and good if they didn’t display dollar prices by default.

From a technical point of view, there is quite a lot they can do to prevent this sort of confusion for the customer. IP location software is widely available on the Internet, it would have taken a programmer a few hours to display the currency based on the customers location. Not 100% reliable I know, but in most cases would work pretty well.

The site itself is built in some flavour of either osCommerce or Zen Cart. Both of these packages have ready build modules to handle situations like this.

Better still, a simple notification that the dollar price didn’t include VAT would also prevent people from getting suspicious in the difference in price.

All in all – it looks like there really are no decent Irish Jewelry stores online. If you know of one, please let me know!

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VAT down (UK) : prices down on play.com, well not really…

I wrote an article on Monday about some online stores not reducing their prices in conjunction with the recent VAT reduction in the UK. Original article here >>

Today it seems Play.com have reduced their price on one of the mentioned items; that is the Playstation bundle. So if you are planning on buying a PlayStation for Christmas – follow this link – and not the one posted on the original article – £10 cheaper today! :)

The other items mentioned in the original article have yet to see a reduction in price. Surely this is illegal?

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Buy baby clothes and baby gifts online

Another shameless plug today – sure it’s nearly Christmas like. A client of ours has just launched her new website and is looking to get a foothold in the Irish baby clothes and baby gifts market.

HipBaby (www.hipbaby.ie) – featured in the Irish Independant today, is a new site selling premium quality baby clothes from a wide range of brands such as Snuglo, Green Baby, Pudding and NooNoo.

Anyway – prices seem to be cheaper in comparison to high street retail outlets.

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