McElhinneys is poised for a bumper Christmas season following its participation in a retail incubation programme at Google Ireland.
In association with Retail Excellence Ireland, Google invited applications from Irish retailers to join a programme that would equip them with the skills and tools to accelerate their fledgling online businesses.
And the Ballybofey store has excelled in the programme – and so has its online sales!
Google Ireland Country Manager, Cera Ward, explained, “The companies who qualified for participation in the retail incubation programme had to display a basic knowledge of online business practices. They also agreed to commit resources internally to develop this side of their business and set clear objectives, the results speak for themselves and they are now in a great position to capitalise on the Christmas season ahead.”
She added, “Shoppers expect access to what they are looking for 24/7 and on the Internet, the shops are always open. For example, according to Visa Europe over the month of December alone, Irish online shoppers will ring up seven million e-commerce transactions with their visa cards, bringing the total level of e-commerce spending over the four week period to €474m. If as a retailer you are not selling online then you are not in a position to maximise on these opportunities.”
McElhinneys department store, which has been in business since 1971, revamped its store website in 2012 and senior manager Roisin Woods says that the Retail incubation programme has helped in surprising ways.
“It was a really great opportunity for likeminded retailers to come together and share knowledge and experiences, this sort of opportunity doesn’t come along very often. Since completing the programme all metrics have increased.
“Site revenue has increased by 65% this year compared to last year, with sales transacted on mobile and tablet driving that increase. Sales transacted via mobile have increased 174% and mobile 255% over the last 12 months. The incubation course offered great insight into key metrics which if monitored by online retailers can really drive revenue or goals.”
Throughout the year the managing directors and senior managers of more than eight businesses came together once a month at Google to get expert advice on topics including analytics, website user experience, online advertising, search, using hangouts and online video to attract customers.
All participants found the programme of immense value which helped to steer their digital marketing strategies to target the estimated 4.6bn euro spent by Irish consumers online.
McElhinneys say that online is driving their in-store sales with customers regularly requesting items they have seen online, in store. This is borne out in the Google Consumer Barometer which shows that 61% of Irish people research online before making a purchase.
The advice for Donegal businesses looking to do well this Christmas is to pay as much attention to your online shop as your physical shop window Christmas display.