UK BPO & IT

Market Watch Industry Bulletin – BPO & IT

UK BPO & IT_Market Watch

See the webinar here.

Customer engagement is critical during the Covid-19 pandemic, as organisations across every industry look to connect, engage, reassure, and supply their customer base.

In this time of uncertainty and disruption, Irish BPO and IT companies have demonstrated impressive flexibility in providing their outsourced services to ensure international companies can overcome these engagement challenges from a remote setting and provide a positive customer experience.

Following Enterprise Ireland’s recent Industry Bulletin which looked at developments across the world affecting Irish BPO and IT Services companies, this edition of our Market Watch series focuses on the UK region and a key end-market for many Irish companies; the UK energy sector.

This webinar reflects on the

  • Immediate impact of Covid-19 on the UK Energy sector
  • Challenges for energy retailers and their customers
  • Future opportunities in the sector for outsourced service providers to develop new and stronger partnerships with energy retailers in the UK.

 

See the webinar here.

Panellists:

David Corcoran, Senior Market Advisor, Enterprise Ireland UK

Peter Haigh, former Managing Director of Bristol Energy, CEO of ELEXON, and Director of Business Retail at E.ON.

 

The Enterprise Ireland MENA Podcast – an overview of the region

Each month the Enterprise Ireland MENA Podcast will discuss the opportunities for winning business across the Middle East and North Africa.

The series will include insights from leading industry figures, in-depth analysis on emerging market trends as well as helpful advice on how best to succeed across the MENA region. Click below for the podcast from May 21st.

Panellists:

Mike Hogan, Regional Manager Enterprise Ireland, MENA

Jack Larkin, Trade Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland MENA

Clean Air

Novaerus clean air technology helping to fight the spread of Covid-19

As focus falls on airborne spread of virus, independent research suggests Irish innovation can help solve a major problem for healthcare and other sectors

One of the many ways our lives have changed during the spring of 2020 has been the way we communicate. New words, phrases and expressions have entered our vocabulary, from acronyms like WFH and PPE to the rallying cry ‘Stay home’.

The one we’ll remember the most, however, the one most likely to linger in our lexicon is the term ‘social distancing’. Years from now, in a bar in Belfast or a restaurant in Rathmines, we will probably still be acutely aware of the social distance between ourselves and the next person.

The huge emphasis on social distancing – and other rules including hand washing – underline that the focus on limiting the spread of Covid-19 has up to now been about avoiding human contact. Keep your distance – no touching.

While steering clear of potentially contaminated people and surfaces remains the focus, there is increasing awareness of the ‘aerosol’ or airborne spread of the virus that comes from dried particles dispersing over long distances and remaining suspended in the air.

 

Clean air vital to prevent virus spread

Many health authorities are now aware that these viral particles can circulate for long periods and can cause infection when inhaled. For hospitals, care homes, schools, factories and other buildings where large numbers of people gather indoors, clean air is now vital to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

This is where Novaerus comes into the picture. One of the many Irish tech companies helping the world to fight the virus, this Dublin-based firm specialises in manufacturing medical-grade clean air solutions for the healthcare and other sectors.

Part of the WellAir company, Novaerus has just announced successful independent test results for its most powerful solution, the Defend1050. Significantly, this patented, portable air disinfection device has been proven to reduce MS2 Bacteriophage (a surrogate for Covid-19) by 99.99% in just 15 minutes.

Novaerus patented plasma technology

Designed for continuous, rapid air cleaning in large spaces, especially where there is a high risk of infection, the Defend 1050 uses Novaerus’ patented, ultra-low energy plasma technology to eliminate airborne viruses and vastly reduce the risk of disease.

“Infection can be transmitted on air currents over distances, by direct and indirect contact, or by a combination of all three routes,” says Dr Felipe Soberon, Chief Technology Officer at WellAir.

“Independent tests prove that the Defend 1050 is ideal for mitigating the risk of airborne dissemination of infection and contamination of surfaces and hands by reducing the bioburden in the air.” says Soberon.

The Defend 1050 was independently tested by US-based Aerosol Research and Engineering (ARE) Laboratories. Placed in a sealed Bioaerosol Test Chamber with aerosolized MS2 bacteriophage, the device took just 15 minutes to reduce the MS2 bacteriophage by 99.99%.

“The methods used by labs like Aerosol Research and Engineering are informed by consensus standards and established by international bodies and scientists,” says Dr Kevin Devlin, CEO at WellAir. “We’re confident that the tests are indicative of how effective the Defend 1050 can be when removing viruses, like coronavirus, from the air.”

The efficiency of the Defend 1050 has been recognised by Chinese health authorities and registered on China’s official platform for disinfection products. Novaerus also recently donated several air dis-infection devices including Defend 1050 models to two hospitals in Wuhan, China, to help them reinforce their virus protection protocols.

Many hospitals worldwide have installed Novaerus technology to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19 among both staff and patients. The Irish technology is also being used in other healthcare facilities, senior living facilities, schools, and other buildings.

 

Internationally recognised innovation

The patented plasma technology used in Novaerus products was invented in 2006. Clinical trials began in Europe in 2008 and a radical upgrade of the technology was completed in 2011. With the help of Enterprise Ireland, the company expanded into the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and its products are now deployed in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Novaerus is part of WellAir, an Irish company on a mission to reduce indoor airborne pollutants to create living, working, and healing spaces that foster rather than detract from human health, productivity, and wellbeing.

Data on mobile phone

How Exertis is using blockchain to transform global tech supply chains

The global supply chains for technology products like smartphones and laptop computers are now almost as complex as the products themselves.

A typical smartphone, for example, is made up of components and materials sourced from up to a dozen suppliers on multiple continents, which are shipped to a manufacturer for final assembly before being sent onwards to distributors, retailers and ultimately sold to consumers.

This presents two major problems for manufacturers and others involved in the chain – visibility and provenance. A new project led by Dublin-based Exertis Supply Chain Services, with funding from Ireland’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), is aimed at solving both of them.

A subsidiary of DCC, Exertis Supply Chain Services is a leader in materials supply chain design and operation. “Our focus is on technology and we provide global supply chain capability for the Exertis group and clients across the globe,” says Brian Cassidy, Head of IT and Director responsible for data protection with the company. “We are also a centre of excellence within the group for the use of blockchain technology.”

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million fund run by Ireland’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as part of the National Development Plan under Project Ireland 2040. It is administered by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency. An example of the country’s strong focus on developing some of the world’s most innovative companies, the initiative funds collaborations between research facilities and ambitious companies to develop innovative technologies that change the world in which we live.

 

Exertis solves visibility problems in the supply chain

The objective of Exertis’s DTIF-supported project, which also involves Dublin-based technology company Sonalake and the CeADAR Technology Centre located at University College Dublin, is to develop a blockchain-based platform, which will transform the technology product supply chain.

“The two problems we are focusing on is the need for end-to-end visibility of products and components along the supply chain and the need to prove the authenticity of products once they reach the market,” says Cassidy.

“We are using the blockchain to provide a peer-to-peer platform for authenticating provenance and we are providing visibility across the supply chain where multiple partners and a high volume of products are involved.”

The current lack of visibility and difficulty with provenance result in a number of issues. “In terms of visibility, for any participant in the supply chain it is very difficult to know what is selling and what is not,” says Cassidy.

This lack of visibility leads to problems with availability. “Typically, the retailer might know what the distributor has in stock but won’t know what the manufacturer has. Visibility is very much limited to one point up or down in the chain. A manufacturer may not know how much product distributors or retailers have because they usually don’t share that information.”

 

Proving Authenticity

Provenance is another issue. “When the item does arrive at the retailer, proving its authenticity can be a really interesting challenge. If a fake product comes into a customer’s hands, a manufacturer wants to be able to see how it got there.”

 

Sharing information dynamically

The Exertis project is highly innovative in that it will provide an open platform for multiple users in multiple supply chains, with each participant being able to decide which other members of the chain they wish to share information with. Furthermore, it will allow them to share selected pieces of information with selected participants.

Once the data gets put on the blockchain it is immutable and cannot be deleted. “It is encrypted and decrypted at a granular level,” Cassidy adds. “A retailer might want to put a transaction on the platform but may not want competitors to know anything about it, whereas they do want the distributor and manufacturer to know. However, they may not be able to share with the manufacturer certain details such as the price they paid for it or what they sold it for. They can decrypt different parts of that dataset for different partners and their ERP system will be able to dynamically decide what information to share and who to share it with.”

Manufacturers will be able to see what is selling and how much product is in the channel in real time. This is important for planning manufacturing output, as well as for managing warranty liabilities. “Manufacturers will usually know how many units were sold, but don’t know exactly when. They need to know that for when the warranty starts. This platform will address that issue. It provides a place where all participants in the chain can contribute, but everyone controls their own data.”

Initial work on the project, began in 2018, with the DTIF-supported three-year project beginning in earnest in August 2019. “The DTIF funding has accelerated this project significantly and facilitated our collaboration with CeADAR and Sonalake. At Exertis, we have looked across our business and identified several exciting use cases, which we expect to roll out in several areas in the coming years”.

 

For more information and call dates for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.

Evolve UK Podcast thumbnail Water Sector

Covid-19 impacts on the UK Water Sector

Enterprise Ireland UK is joined by experts from the UK Water Sector to discuss the impacts of Covid-19, progress with AMP 7, and the opportunities that are emerging for supply chain companies. Listen below to the podcast from May 14th.

If using Internet Explorer click here to listen to the podcast.

Panelists: Darragh Cotter, Enterprise Ireland UK, Shaun Stevens, EPS Water, Stephen Kennedy, MWH Treatment,, David Elliott, Indepen

Cubic Telecom car image

Cubic Telecom’s swift response to Covid-19 strengthens its customer relationships

When the novel coronavirus first emerged, Cubic Telecom acted fast to protect its staff and cement its customer relationships. Those moves are paying dividends now.

The company provides global mobility solutions for IoT, automotive and mobile device companies around the world, from Germany’s Volkswagen Group to US satellite communications company Kymeta.

The software innovator, which has received funding from Enterprise Ireland, today employs 150 people. It experienced particularly fast growth last year and was recruiting new team members right up until January, when the first inklings of the Covid-19 crisis emerged. When it did, the company acted swiftly.

“The senior team was very focused on getting as much information in as possible early in the Covid-19 life stage. There was a focus on human impact and economic impact. We did some very detailed analysis on the impact to the company and took the right amount of time to assess the steps that needed to be taken to ensure the sustainability of the company. Once this was done the teams could be reassured and day to day work could continue as before,” says Richard Springer, the company’s Director of Commercial Strategy.

“People have come first and this has been led from CEO level down. There have been cost reductions and tighter control of the financials but at the same time, we are still driving the business forward to make sure we come out of this period in a strong position.”

As a technology company, it helped that remote working and the use of tools such as MS Teams and Zoom were already well established in the company.

Once the scale of the crisis was assessed, all staff members were asked to work from home, with some international staff flying home to their native countries to work from there. The use of video and teleconferencing has ensured productivity has been maintained ever since.

“As restrictions started coming into place, very open communication with employees was maintained and, in the background, extensive modelling work done by looking at previous events, including Spanish Flu to SARS and MERS, in order to create very good future forecasting and cash management,” explains Springer.

Decision making was quick and efficient at the top, with the senior team participating in daily catch-ups every morning. What were previously weekly catch-ups were turned into reviews of what was happening in key markets worldwide, as well as planning for the recoveries in each.

The key to successfully managing the crisis for the company so far has been to focus on ensuring there was “over communication” with both staff and customers as both cohorts adjusted to remote working.

“That meant giving people more information, communicating at a more personal level about how their family is, for example, and ensuring there was more collaboration,” says Springer, who says that acknowledging the ‘human’ side of current events is vital. “It’s about making sure the team is okay and that everyone knows what is happening.”

Being empathetic and working to safeguard employees’ physical and mental health was paramount too, with new programmes in areas such as yoga and mindfulness introduced for staff.

 

Adapting to customers’ needs

Cubic Telecom has customers all over the world, which means travel has always been a staple part of its customer relationship management.  Business development strategies traditionally include a presence at major international trade shows, such as CES in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with vital support provided by Enterprise Ireland.

With such events no longer taking place, the company quickly predicted that customer relationships would need to be maintained and developed remotely too.

“We spent the first few weeks of the lockdown focusing on customer relationships, talking to existing customers,” he says.

While nothing replaces face to face meetings, he says, by again focusing on the human side of the situation, and encouraging collaboration, these relationships are successfully being strengthened remotely.

Although a pandemic is never welcome, the fact that Cubic Telecom is by now so well recognised in its sectors internationally helps. “We are at a point where a lot of our relationships are very well established. As a business we are also still small enough to move fast, but big enough to be recognised in the industry as a player,” he explains.

 

International recognition

Enterprise Ireland’s backing from its earliest days led to Cubic Telecom unlocking a series of investments as it grew, including from major industry players such as Audi and Qualcomm, among others. More recent investment has come from long term backer ACT Venture Capital and the European Investment Bank.

The connected intelligence company is now acknowledged as a pioneer in eSIM technologies and advanced data analytics, offering mobility solutions for IoT, automotive and mobile device companies across the globe.

It has mobile operator partnerships in more than 190 countries, for example. One of the most recent, with Etisalat, a UAE telecoms company, was announced at an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to the Middle East.

While it is not business as usual for the company right now – too much outside its walls have changed – it is business as ‘best as possible’.

“Our employees are well informed about what is going on, our business is running as it was previously and supply chains are open and running,” he says.

As a supplier, it is critical to understand that “everyone is experiencing different impacts to their business,” he advises.

“It does not matter what size that business is, during this time everyone could be under pressure. That is the key when dealing with any business during this time. There needs to be a collaborative approach in how to get through the next months together and as much sharing of impacts, plans and information as possible to help each other.”

Anne Lanigan Enterprise Ireland

Market Watch – A view from Europe

Key Takeaways

  • Business in Europe has been severely impacted by Covid-19, but many countries are now beginning to re-open and are determined to get industry and business moving again
  • Movement of products is improving while movement of people is still a challenge.
  • Opportunities are likely to emerge for example in digitisation across industries; or in the healthcare sector for non-Covid related health issues.
  • Preparation and planning is vital.
  • Enterprise Ireland offices around the region are on hand to offer support.

There is no doubt that Europe has been heavily hit by the effects of the current pandemic, but regional director Anne Lanigan says many countries are beginning to move into recovery phase and countries across the Eurozone are determined to get their industries and businesses moving again. There is a general acceptance in Europe that we need to learn to live, as safely as possible, with the virus. Construction and manufacturing industries are gearing up while observing social distancing and using personal protective equipment; digital technology and office based businesses are for the most part still working remotely but increasingly effectively and in a number of countries e.g. in France and the Netherlands some services like hairdressing have re-opened under strict guidelines.

“The numbers speak for themselves in terms of infections and fatalities, but most countries have passed their peak and are moving into exiting confinement and reopening – all at slightly different stages,” she says. “But there is alot of similarity in terms of the timing of countries coming out of lockdown at this point and what this is really saying is that Europe is opening up again.”

Lanigan says while we are inclined to look at when schools, shops, and social outlets open, what is really important to the restarting of economies is when industry is recommencing.

“Whether or not you can get a haircut isn’t relevant to most of our clients, what is really vital is the restarting of construction and manufacture and the returning to work in businesses. Of course movement of people and products is crucial to this” she says. “Movement of product is definitely improving but movement of people, particularly across borders, is still an issue which of course affects our clients.

“Each country is different and even regions within countries can be at different stages and have different restrictions, so it’s important to get up to date and accurate information from your partners, customers and logistics providers.  For example most countries will have a requirement to use face masks in certain circumstances, and social distancing rules will differ between countries. So don’t assume that the Irish rules will work – it’s important to know the specifics of the country you are working in.” Enterprise Ireland offices across the Eurozone can also help clients with this.” Irish companies with personnel on the ground in Europe are in a lot of cases eligible for state support from the country they are operating in and again our offices can offer advice and direction on this.

Thankfully many Enterprise Ireland client companies have maintained business in the Eurozone throughout the crisis and some have won new business. However while some clients have continued to do business in a similar fashion to pre-Covid days, most will need to get used to new requirements and many may also need to diversify.

“Our clients will need to be creative in adjusting to the new normal” says Lanigan. “Digitisation will form a large part of this. Localising (not just translating) websites is more important than ever – ensuring that websites are easily found, are easy to navigate and provide all the necessary information in a clear format. Social media is also getting a lot of traction at the moment, so making sure to be ‘out there’ in terms of social media, will help to raise a company’s profile.”

“As countries open up, travel will continue to be restricted so if companies can digitise their maintenance and servicing by providing online videos or some kind of instruction online or via a webinar in a sophisticated and professional manner, this will help them to hold on to business. Online shopping functionality may also be an important capability to add for some businesses.

Understanding how each country works is vital for Irish exporters, but the regional director says keeping in touch is even more important.

“Communicating with customers is still crucial whether business has slowed, stopped or continued during the current crisis,” she advises. “The communication lines must be kept open – and ear-to-ear or ideally face-to-face on a virtual platform is much better than an email. So virtual meetings, webinars and virtual distributor forums will all help to maintain communication and build strong relationships.

“This will keep businesses up to speed on what is happening in the markets and what is happening with their customers and so position them to adjust more quickly and in the right direction to maximise potential.

In every crisis there is opportunity and the current pandemic is no different with several sectors set to do well out of the situation. Lanigan says “Every industry is now seeing digital transformation at an accelerated pace and there are opportunities for businesses who digitise fast and opportunities for businesses who offer digital and tech solutions.”

“Our clients and Irish people are typically good at spotting opportunities,” says Lanigan. “I would encourage companies to look at how they can pivot in the current crisis – anything which reduces human contact and allows remote operations will have opportunities i.e. digitisation. 

“Another area likely to surge is non-Covid related healthcare. In most countries routine treatments have been put on hold or much reduced in order to deal with Covid 19 cases. As things move back to normal, there is likely to be a big demand for other med tech and pharma products. Now is the time to prepare for that.”

Lanigan advises companies to be look toward the future, reset and get ready for the recovery. “There is a danger that we just focus on the immediate – we are advising clients to also look at the medium to long term and get plans in place” she says. Future business may be a continuation of current business but with added value or an adjusted value proposition; it may be with a repurposed product pivoting to a different sector; it may be exploiting brand new opportunities created by Covid 19; or it may be replacing global products with ‘made in the eurozone’ products. “We are nearing the end of the stabilise phase and moving into reset but we need our eyes on the recovery – so be prepared, be aware and look forward. Enterprise Ireland’s team across the Eurozone are here to help you reset, recover and build your business.”

Anne Lanigan is Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Director for Europe. To learn more about the steps companies can take to address the impact of Covid-19 visit our business supports page.

Kilkenny Group Evelyn Moynihan

Online retail helps Kilkenny Group weather the Covid-19 storm

 

With 17 shops spread throughout Ireland, the initial impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on design and craft retailer Kilkenny was sudden and severe.

Most of the shops are in prime high-street locations and are reliant on heavy footfall for their trade, especially from tourists. With the global tourism industry decimated and the domestic market isolating at home, the outlook did not look good for the Kilkenny Group, its 350 employees, or the companies and craftspeople who make the homeware, wellness, jewellery and fashion products that the shops sell. Kilkenny Group Logo

Evelyn Moynihan, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Kilkenny Group, explains: “Kilkenny is all about championing Irish design and craft, about 72% of what we do is Irish made or designed. We stock just under 300 Irish designers and makers in our stores and online, and Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our business.

“We temporarily closed our shops and restaurants on the 16th of March. It was obviously a very difficult decision but it was the only one we could make for safety of our staff and customers.”

Customer insight

Kilkennyshop.com was now the group’s only means of generating sales revenue. Fortunately the Kilkenny team had the capacity to pivot and ramp up online sales as a result of their participation in Enterprise Ireland’s Online Retail Scheme last year. The company received funding through the scheme to improve the performance of the Kilkennyshop.com website and develop a better understanding of their online customers.

Evelyn says: “The Online Retail Scheme helped us put a proper structure and way of working in place so that we were set up for growth:

“We used the funding to complete key steps like conducting a UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) audit of the website, and to outline a clear digital marketing strategy for our business. We also used the funding to complete a strong inventory consolidation for our eCommerce business.”

Kilkenny responded to the Coivd-19 challenge by redeploying staff working from home to support their online and telesales operations. The group’s started operating split shifts for warehouse staff over six days rather than five in order to ensure that it operated efficiently and also meet strict social distancing guidelines.

“We’ve gone from eight employees working on our online team prior to Covid-19 to now having 18 employees working across our online and telesales operation,” Evelyn says. “These are long-term staff members, so they know our products and our brands and are really passionate about the Kilkenny business. It’s fabulous to see that care and attention being put into our online and our customer service phone lines.”

 

Online growth

The Kilkenny Group’s ability to adapt has been rewarded with a dramatic increase in online sales. Evelyn says: “We’ve seen huge growth online – more than 400% since the 16th of March, which has been great for our business. Telesales has been an interesting new channel where lots of people are ringing up and ordering gifts to be sent out to their loved ones. Some of the cocooners who maybe aren’t as confident shopping online, are using that channel.

“Prior to the virus, online was circa five percent of our total business. Now, when we look out for the rest of this financial year, we believe that it will finished at 15% of our business, which is great to see.” says Evelyn Moynihan, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Kilkenny Group

 

The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme

The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme is open for traditional retailers who want to invest in their online offering and grow their markets in Ireland and internationally. It is offering an 80pc grant rate – meaning companies can apply funding of up to €40,000 against a project spend of up to €50,000. Applications for the scheme, which has €2m available, must be received by 3pm on 27th May.

Stephen Hughes, Head of Consumer at Enterprise Ireland, says:

“The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme is not just for large retailers – there’s no reason why smaller niche, regional or local companies can’t use it to grow their online business and end up trading internationally, if they have an ambition to do so.” 

The Kilkenny Group is now making plans to reopen shops later this summer in accordance with the Government’s phased easing of Covid-19 restrictions – but continuing to grow online sales remain a priority.

Evelyn says: “International sales are a key area of growth that we’re setting ourselves for the rest of the year towards 2021. There are so many people with strong Irish connections or roots – we know from the shops that the market’s there and we know the products that they like.

“Although no one could have predicted the impact of Covid-19, the investment that we made and the work we did with Enterprise Ireland last year was critical for us to be ready to take on the growth that we see now in our business today.”

Learn how the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme can support your retail business online growth– Apply before 27th May 2020.

 

 

Market Watch Construction

Market Watch – Construction – Industry Bulletin no.2

Download the bulletin here.

As a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Enterprise Ireland construction companies are experiencing unprecedented market disruption both domestically and across international markets.

Following  our last market bulletin at the end of March, this report for April provides a high-level sector update from the Enterprise Ireland network of overseas construction advisors on their markets. Already we are noticing the loosening of restrictions and the strategic prioritisation of the construction industry by many national Governments.

 

 

Inish

Online investment helps drive business for Inish Pharmacy

Paul O'Hea, Inish Pharmacy

With three stores in rural locations, the importance of community is ingrained in the culture of Inish Pharmacy.

The company’s employees work hard to understand the needs of the people who shop in their pharmacies in Buncrana, Carndonagh and Muff in Inishowen, Co Donegal. The customers are, after all, also their neighbours, friends and family.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on how Inish Pharmacy does business. As an essential business, their shops are open but social distancing measures have been implemented for the safety of both customers and staff.

Not surprisingly, footfall is down, and shop sales have fallen considerably. Were it not for the performance of Inish’s online shop, the company and its employees might be facing an uncertain future.

 

Online growth

Inish Pharmacy director Paul O’Hea says: “Online has gone through an exceptionally busy period. There’s a huge demand for healthcare but people don’t want to go out or can’t go out, so they’re shopping online. Prior to the coronavirus, online was probably 25 percent of our sales, but in the last couple of months there has seen a huge increase.”

Having been trading online for a number of years, Inish Pharmacy already had an established customer base – but it was only at the beginning of 2019 that the company started to discover their online potential. Inish received funding in February 2019 from the Online Retail Scheme, a grant administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to help retail businesses improve their online capability.

Inish developed a strategy to improve customer experience and optimise conversion rates in their online store. They conducted analysis of international best practice for online pharmacies and completed 1,600 customer surveys on their offering. The company also ran website upgrades in tandem with the project.

Paul says the changes and improvements that Inish made have been key to the company being able to meet the current demand for their health-care products.

 

Responding to Covid-19 demands

Paul says: “One of the things the Online Retail Scheme helped us do was take a big overview of a lot of our processes internally. We revamped a lot of our processes to allow us to expand order fulfilment quickly. That has been really helpful because in the current environment, when order volumes really increased in a very short period of time due to Covid-19, we were able to expand our capacity quickly to keep up.

“And it’s not just processing orders. At the minute we’re buying in new products from different suppliers and we’re able to react quickly and get these products ordered, on the system and online so that they’re available to our customers. We have been able to adapt, and a big part of that was because we spent time as part of the Online Retail Scheme planning for expansion and then putting things in place to allow us to do it.”

Excellent customer service is a hallmark of Inish Pharmacy’s operations – for customers locally in Donegal, or online throughout the rest of Ireland, the UK or further afield. The company is rightly proud of its 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot. Standards are high and Inish has invested in its people to ensure they are maintained during the current crisis.

Paul says: “Our warehouse staff has gone up from five up to 13 people since the coronavirus hit. Three people have been redeployed from shops to the warehouse and we’ve had to take on five additional staff as well.”

 

The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme

The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme provides even greater incentive for traditional retailers to invest in their online offering. Companies can apply for a grant of up to €40,000 against a project spend of up to €50,000.

Stephen Hughes, Head of Consumer at Enterprise Ireland, says:

“It’s an 80 percent grant rate, which is almost unheard of for such a large level of support – it’s unprecedented. There is €2m available in the scheme, which opened on 29th April and will closes at 3pm on 27th May – all applications must be received by then.”

For now, Inish Pharmacy remains focused on providing the best service they can for all of their customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the company also has plans to scale up the growth they have experienced since participating in the Online Retail Scheme.

“We have had good growth and we have expanded our customer base and we want to take that up to the next level,” Paul says. “I think people’s buying habits will change as a result of the coronavirus – a lot of people will have got used to buying online more than they have ever done before.

“In 12 months’ time, I would like to think that a lot of the customers that are shopping with us for the first time now will have become regular shoppers.”

 

Learn how the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme can support your retail business online growth– Apply before 27th May 2020.

 

 

Market Watch Industry Bulletin – Aerospace & Aviation

 

Enterprise Ireland’s industry bulletin for the Aerospace & Aviation industry provides insights from Market Advisors across the world, on market developments in each region, exploring market conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic , developments, opportunities and supports.

Read the full report here.

Featured Webinars Category

a:7:{s:8:”location”;a:1:{i:0;a:1:{i:0;a:3:{s:5:”param”;s:8:”taxonomy”;s:8:”operator”;s:2:”==”;s:5:”value”;s:8:”webinars”;}}}s:8:”position”;s:6:”normal”;s:5:”style”;s:7:”default”;s:15:”label_placement”;s:3:”top”;s:21:”instruction_placement”;s:5:”label”;s:14:”hide_on_screen”;s:0:””;s:11:”description”;s:0:””;}