Wexford businesses urged to optimise their online presence
A Gorey based business owner has highlighted to this newspaper the benefits of getting involved with a programme aimed at enhancing online presence and e-commerce in general.
Almost three-quarters of Irish SMEs do not engage in e-commerce and 20 per cent have no online presence at all but the owner of Liwu Jewellery, Áine Breen, said businesses are losing out by not maximising the potential of online retailing.
She said her involvement with IE Domain Registry's Optimise programme has resulted in increased traffic to her website which itself was upgraded and streamlined as a result of recommendations she received from the programme.
Ms Breen said participation in the Optimise programme made all the difference to her business.
'It was really beneficial for me to get involved because it showed me how to get my website working efficiently,' she said.
As part of the programme a full, complete audit was done on Ms Breen's website and she was presented with a detailed breakdown of how it could be improved.
'The website was designed really well but it was just the overall user experience that needed to be improved,' she said.
'It was actually really important for me because around 90 per cent of my traffic comes from America and when you are a small business owner you do not fully understand the ins-and-outs of getting your website to reach its full potential,' she added.
'It was great because I was able to go back to my web developer with a detailed list of how it could be improved and that was really good.'
With regard to how it has enhanced her business Ms Breen said she saw a big increase in the level of online traffic.
'I have seen a really big increase since we applied the changes recommended through the programme,' she said.
'It was good because it gave me a better understanding and then I was able to go to my web developers and show them what I wanted to do.'
Ms Breen also registered her business with a .ie domain and said that has also proven beneficial: 'It shows customers that you are an Irish based company and that is really important - especially as so much of my customers are American.'
She highlighted that spending a lot of money on a website doesn't necessarily mean it will work to its full potential: 'You could spend a lot of money on a website but that does not mean you will get exactly what you want.'
'I would definitely encourage small business owners to consider the programme if they want to increase their online presence,' added Ms Breen.
Now in its eighth year the Optimise initiative has assisted over 130 small and micro-business owners to hone their digital skills and capabilities and enhance their e-commerce potential to realise and grow online sales.
According to findings in the IE Domain Registry Digital Health Index (DHI) for Quarter 4, 2017, 54 per cent of consumers would shop with a competitor if a company does not have a website.
IE Domain Registry has invested €742,000 in the Optimise programme over the last eight years.
Last year the company announced a new sector-based approach to the programme and the first partnership was with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) which directly resulted in Ms Breen being contacted to see if she would like to have her business audited.
This year the Irish Hardware Association, the national representative body of hardware and DIY retailers, builders, merchants, manufacturers and trade distributors, was added to the programme.