Irish businesses ignoring potential net profits
Seventy per cent of €3.7 billion spent online in Ireland annually goes to companies outside the country
“I’ve found that eBay vendors are consistently good at getting the whole online selling thing – but then I suppose they would.” Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
And when small businesses do go online, many seem clueless about how to conduct business and snag a sale.
I’m sure anyone who buys online regularly has had an experience similar to a recent one of mine, the kind of frustrating attempt to spend money with an Irish business (then, when that didn’t work, a UK business) that exemplifies the problems in this sector.
In my case, I needed a replacement part for an aquarium filter but really you could name a dozen different items and the experience would regularly be similar.
I tried Irish online vendors first but couldn’t find one clearly offering “spares” (as replacement parts are termed). I found one shop that had a website that seemed to indicate it might sell spares but I couldn’t get through on their phone line.
Potential sale lost.
So back to the web for the UK shops. They represented a great improvement – at least in websites displaying all items in stock, making it easy to see that yes, several had the part I wanted.
So I tried to buy it. But – annoyingly – the sites did not clearly indicate how they priced shipping to Ireland unless you went through the entire sales process of entering personal details and card information. At this late point they let me know my £14 lightweight plastic part would cost £22 in postage to send.
Potential sale lost.
Off to eBay, where I quickly found several UK vendors with the part – often at several pounds less. I selected one that also had the “top seller” badge and excellent feedback, and easily checked their shipping charges.
It was £3.95 for a small packet through Royal Mail.
A few hours later I had a notification that the packet had been shipped. It was in Dublin two days later. Now that is good online service.
But let’s reverse through this process and look at where too many small business vendors lose out, and why.
If a shop in the Dublin region had clearly indicated it stocked the part I needed I would have just driven over to check and bought the item here.
If the shop that seemed it might carry spares had answered its phone and had the part I would have bought the item from it.
If any of several UK shops that had much better websites showing products also had a clue about selling outside the UK (hello – single market, anyone?) I would have bought from it. How several UK vendors that I tried thought that extremely high shipping charges would net them a sale in Ireland (while offering free shipping within Britain) is anyone’s guess.