5TH JUNE, 2020

E-commerce Innovations In Ireland, Now And Into The Future

Internet users in the Republic of Ireland spend an average of 13.5 hours online every week. Of course, not all age groups are the same, with those aged under 20 spending around double the amount of time online as those over 35. But as time goes on and the new generations (and challenges) come through, the focus on e-commerce innovation will be evermore strong.

Innovative e-commerce ideas, especially for SMEs, are vital for business survival

Recent statistics show that as of 2018, 89% of households in Ireland had internet access at home. As with all developed countries, internet use is a way of life for the majority of people and is a major contributor to the country’s economy.

Looking at online habits, the population of the Irish Republic is not dissimilar to that of, say, the UK. However, Ireland’s unique geography and demographics present their own challenges and opportunities for online retailers, making it quite distinct. Of course, the world changed fast when coronavirus turned all our lives upside down, adding to a wave of e-commerce innovation that was already gaining momentum.

COVID-19 and the need to sell online

When the coronavirus pandemic came pretty much out of nowhere, many businesses had to pull down the shutters in the wake of lockdown restrictions. Hundreds of producers and store owners have moved their offerings online, many for the first time. This has led to a wave of innovative ideas around advertising, promotional offers and delivery which large numbers of Irish businesses, particularly SMEs, have never done before. Some retailers are prioritising deliveries for the elderly and more vulnerable members of society, whilst others are offering discounts to healthcare workers. Many food retailers and restaurants in Ireland are also packaging up meals which people can buy online and have delivered to their door. When push comes to shove we’re an innovative bunch!

Augmented reality in e-commerce

With social distancing likely to stick around, app development that uses Augmented Reality and also Virtual Reality is proving to be a highly transformative way to grow e-commerce business. These apps allow shoppers to “try on” a piece of clothing before buying it for example, or to see how a particular item of furniture would look in their room. This means of course that not only do items need to be sent back far less frequently, but it drastically reduces contact and helps with hygiene issues. Many Irish companies already offer AR/VR facilities on their websites or by downloading their app, but the coronavirus pandemic is likely to speed up how quickly businesses adopt them that otherwise may not have done.

Thinking green

Modern internet shoppers want to enjoy buying the things they want online, at a great price, from the comfort of their homes. But they also want to know that what they are buying is sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly wherever possible. Green consumerism is not new but it’s become a much more important part of a buyer’s consciousness. It’s shaping the e-commerce space continuously, and brands must therefore prioritise it. Millennials are particularly switched on to the concept of a green economy, from buying organic foods and vegan cosmetics. Consumers are more than ever feeling responsible for the planet. This means that businesses need to come up with innovative ways to market their sustainable practises as part of their online presence.

Personalised customer experience

A positive customer experience is integral to any company but how valued a customer feels will bring many innovations around personalisation, dominating the future of e-commerce.

Personalisation plays a key role in encouraging repeat businesses through loyalty. It allows for companies to reach audiences on any device creating a more seamless user experience. In fact many consumers, particularly of younger generations, are likely to expect some level of e-commerce customisation as standard. As innovation continues, retailers will be able to provide an individual experience for customers that’s highly tailored, building on existing technology that is based on previous purchases and preferences for example.

A particularly pertinent example of personalised customer experience is “contextual marketing”, where real-time customer targeting is incorporated based on intent. It effectively (and accurately) assumes what a customer needs at the very moment they approach the brand. This idea is that the customer has a truly unique experience, which also leads to an increase in response rates, conversions, and sales thanks to this greater relevance and immediacy.

Drones

This one sounds pretty sci-fi but drones and robots are already starting to play a crucial role in the direction and expansion of e-commerce across the world. Today, people want their purchases delivered right to their door in super-quick time, and drones make this a possibility. Currently, the global big names like Amazon and Alibaba have undertaken notable steps forward in this field, but over time it’s hoped to be more accessible to small organisations too. Thanks to the advanced aerial technology on board these very sophisticated bits of kit, not only can items arrive incredibly quickly but at cheaper cost too. It’s therefore only a matter of time before drones catapult customer satisfaction to the next level and become an essential part of many e-commerce strategies.

Has your company been innovative lately?

Don’t forget to apply for R&D Tax Credits if your business has designed a new product, process or service recently (or upgraded an existing one). It’s a highly valuable government tax incentive scheme open to any company in the Republic of Ireland. As long as a scientific or technological discovery has been made, however large or small, then the R&D Tax Credits scheme can help hugely towards the cost.

Our Tax Cloud portal allows you to make your own, fully optimised guided R&D Tax Credits claim. It’s totally secure, has a 100% success rate and low fees too. It’s worth also reading our recent blog: What Advantages Does Tax Cloud Offer Irish Businesses?

Try the Tax Cloud portal for businesses today and see what you could claim. If you need to, you’re welcome to call us too on +353 1 566 2001 or use our contact page.
Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
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