eBay to help up to 50 Irish firms to sell globally

5 Mar 2019

From left: Hazel Mitchell from eBay with Deirdre Uí Chathmhaoil of Rí Na Mara and Stephen Hughes from Enterprise Ireland. Image: Julien Behal

New scheme will help Irish businesses open their shop windows to the world.

eBay has joined forces with Enterprise Ireland and the Design & Crafts Council to help up to 50 SME businesses sell to local and global audiences.

The internet giant’s Retail Expansion Programme, which was launched yesterday (4 March) in Dublin, opens up opportunities with 179m buyers across the 190 markets in which eBay operates.

‘It’s critical that Irish SMEs continue to innovate and become more competitive and resilient’

In 2018, there were 3.7m listings from Irish professional sellers on the platform, 68pc of whom used the marketplace to export.

The new programme in Ireland follows the success of similar initiatives in cities and towns across the US, Canada and the UK.

In Wolverhampton in the UK, where the programme was piloted last year, participating small businesses saw their sales reach £1m after just three months. On average, businesses saw their sales increase by 41pc as a direct result of the programme.

“This is the first time that eBay has launched a national programme but, given the success of similar schemes in cities such as Wolverhampton and Akron in Ohio, we are confident that this is going to open up a global window of new and extensive opportunities for SMEs right across the country,” said eBay’s vice-president of global experience, Derek Allgood.

“We anticipate that the economic impact from this programme will be significant and a positive contributor to the companies involved, as well as the Irish economy,” Allgood said.

Global reach

The new project invites selected small Irish businesses to use eBay.ie as a platform to extend their customer reach and compete on a global scale.

The top countries to which Irish professional sellers on the e-commerce platform currently export are the UK, Germany, the US, Australia and France, but on average Ireland’s professional sellers export to 12 different markets around the world.

“Ireland’s dynamic retail sector is a primary contributor to our national and regional economies; however, international competitors and the acceleration of online trends present significant challenges,” said Stephen Hughes, head of consumer at Enterprise Ireland.

“It’s critical that Irish SMEs continue to innovate and become more competitive and resilient. Through the Retail Expansion Programme, up to 50 Irish SMEs from across the country will be given access to expert mentoring to enable them to build scale and expand their reach in international markets.”

One of the first companies to use the programme is Rí Na Mara, a family business based in Connemara that uses locally harvested seaweed for its range of natural and organic beauty products. Deirdre Uí Chathmhaoil founded the company in 2004, and she said it has been looking for new ways to grow for a number of years.

“To have been selected by eBay and Enterprise Ireland means that we now have an opportunity to build our brand globally, which will help us to grow our business, drive sales and potentially generate new jobs in the Connemara area,” she said.

“Rí Na Mara now has an anchor store through eBay.ie and I am already seeing increased interest in the brand simply from our new listing.”

Updated, 9.21am, 5 March 2019: This article was updated to correct a typo and clarify that the eBay programme offers opportunities to 179m buyers.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years