Irish businesses remain slow to tap online shoppers – but selling through the internet is easier than you’d think.
According to many futurists, digital commerce will slowly but surely outpace – and perhaps eradicate – retail as we know it. However, it seems that Irish companies haven’t been getting the message. According to a study by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, only 22% of Irish small and medium enterprises trade online.
That may not seem life a problem, but the online spend of Irish consumers is on course to reach €13bn by 2020. In other words, if you’re selling to consumers without selling online, those companies that are trading digitally – whether from Ireland or abroad – are making inroads into your business.
Luckily, the process of setting up safe and reliable e-commerce is far easier than it used to be. A few key principles will help you make the transition well.
Simple, Safe Solution
Once upon a time, setting up an e-commerce site was a major project involving a huge amount of investment and a bespoke solution from your web design firm. However, the barriers to entry have fallen as more firms adopt online selling. At the most basic level, Squarespace offers a simple and cheap way to get an elegant website – and take orders – quickly. More advanced solutions are also cheaper than before thanks to affordable payment providers such as Paypal. Whether you’re happy to use an off-the-peg site, or want a web design firm to design something a bit more special, make sure the solution for shoppers is straightforward and affordable.
Next to price, good customer service is an online shopper’s key consideration – in fact, at its best, good service can outweigh cost for many consumers. So you should gear up your business to provide service for online shoppers – that means a clear selling and delivery process for online transactions, and clarity within your organisation about who looks after this area.
It’s not enough, however, just to have excellent service – your shoppers need to be aware of it too. Having a telephone number that customers can call – not just an ‘info@’ email address – reassures online shoppers. So too does a postal address. Also, as soon as you have some customer testimonials to share through your website, do so.
Know the Law
Some new EU regulations governing online selling have come into force, so it’s vital to be compliant with them. If you trade with customers within the EU, products or services purchased must be delivered within 30 days of the customer making the order unless they agree otherwise. If you won’t be able to deliver on this, you must inform the consumer who then must agree a revised date of delivery. In the EU, customers can cancel or withdraw from a purchase without giving any reason within 14 working days of making the order – as a trader, you must then refund any money paid within 14 days. You can only levy charges based on the cost of returning the goods.
You can no longer charge customers extra for paying by a particular method of payment – such as by credit card – than the costs actually incurred by you. Also, if you operate a telephone hotline, you can no longer chare more than the basic telephone rate for the telephone calls.
Getting set up to take and fulfil orders online isn’t an expensive or hugely laborious task. It just calls for a bit of organisations and effort, which should hopefully position you to tap a growing digital economy.