co-founder on present shopping and Irish e-commerce

26 Oct 2011 talks to Kathyrn Murphy, co-founder of, about how it helps people find the perfect presents and the challenges Irish e-commerce stores face.

For many people, gift shopping can be hell.

While we all love the idea of giving a friend, relative or colleague a unique and memorable gift, it can be difficult to devote the time and effort into finding the perfect present.

Internet shopping has offered more choice than ever before, but honing in on something truly suitable for an individual can still be difficult.

Online gift directory has been created to help solve this issue. The site was originally called and was set up by cousins and best friends Kathyrn Murphy and Orlagh Collins from Dublin.

The site displays selected gifts and categorises them by relationship and occasion, whether it’s a gift for a father for Christmas, a friend’s daughter for graduation or even an ex-husband for a divorce.

“We never recommend anything that we don’t think is absolutely brilliant,” said Murphy.

“We work with hundreds of different stores and we hand pick all of the gifts we think would match particular occasions,” she said.

The idea

Murphy and Collins worked on the website part time for a year before setting up an office in March of last year.

“The idea actually came from Orlagh – her last job was head of physical production at Pathe, an independent film company,” said Murphy.

“Quite often, she would get the job of buying gifts for the likes of Kylie Minogue or Judi Dench. Those people get such amazing gifts all the time and to get something that stands out is quite tricky.

“So Orlagh thought it would be great if there was a website that would actually help you find interesting and imaginative gifts?’ We started working on it and it grew and grew until I found myself leaving my job and we got an investor and set up our office,” she said.

Although the world of gifting can seem quite female-focused, Murphy said that they have worked hard to create a website that appeals as much to men as it does to women.

Irish e-commerce works with e-commerce websites, big and small, to recommend their top gifts.

I asked Murphy how Ireland was doing in e-commerce, and while she said that they worked with some fantastic Irish online stores, she would like to see more of them.

“We are always, always looking for great Irish sites to recommend, but it can be hard for small Irish businesses to compete with their larger UK counterparts.

“In the UK, free delivery and free returns are becoming standard. When you’re up against the likes of Amazon or, it’s very difficult for a small business to compete with that,” said Murphy.

“Saying that, there are some wonderful Irish companies that we work with that are really interesting and we love promoting”.

Recommended gifts

Murphy emphasised that is an invitation-only site and that they were very selective about what appears.

“It breaks my heart, we get lots and lots of sites applying all the time and we just have to say no,” she said.

“They may be small businesses that are trying to get their business up and running, or are big businesses that just don’t fit in with what we’re trying to do.

“But it’s so important to us to be particular about who we work with because what we’re offering our readers is our selectivity that comes from the gift concierge service that we provide.

“And anyway, our heart wouldn’t be in it if we weren’t recommending gifts that we didn’t love. It has to be a reflection of what we intended it to be. If we found out that people were dissatisfied with the customer service on a site that we recommend, we take that very seriously, as well,” she said.

The selectivity is quite important to make sure that people find the very best gifts, suited for both the occasion and the individual receiving the present.

“When you start talking to people about giving gifts, it really means a lot to them,” said Murphy.

“Anyone can give you a gift voucher from Brown Thomas and they’ll be happy to get it, but to get something that you didn’t even know that you wanted and that’s really delightful, you’ll talk about it for years,” she said.