Online presence is critical to a business’ survival

8 Nov 2010

Bobby O’Keeffe, CEO of Fastway, a franchise courier service that is represented in five countries across the globe, says in order for Irish e-tailers to succeed they must first have a strong web presence.

According to O’Keeffe, being online in business is everything and, despite the many hurdles this presents to companies, the benefit of being able to access the global market far outweighs the risks.

“The reality is if you’re not in you can’t win. You must be online in every business. Selling or not you must have a presence. Look at every major retailer and other brands that are now online. It is the future; there are challenges but there is access to the global market. It’s very important to all Irish businesses whether they will sell online or just to have a presence.”

Fastway, which was conceived in New Zealand in 1983, has grown steadily over the years and expanded to Ireland in 2002. It is built on a franchise model where all couriers are franchisees as well as delivery people and O’Keeffe believes that this is key for success in the logistics game.

“We recognised the need for a tailored solution surrounding e-tailing. Predominantly it’s delivery from business to homes or business to consumer’s process that wouldn’t have a traditional business address.

“Because of the lack of post codes in Ireland, it was very challenging to get your product delivered on time. We looked at this and realised if we hadn’t taken a look at our own business model and tailor it we would have failed.”

O’Keeffe believes that in order for the customer to buy more, satisfaction and relationships have to be in place just like a traditional shopkeeper/customer role and the e-tailer must be represented not only by their product but also by the standard of its delivery.

“By having that representation of the e-tailer at the door through our franchise businesspeople we manage to excel on the overall customer experience and it affects how they purchase online. As a logistics company, we are working closely with the client on one side to ensure that our customer has been catered for. The likelihood is that they are going to buy more. We see it as the future of e-tailing as opposed to just a regular delivery.”

While he contends that solid customer relationships and astute delivery procedures are the cornerstone of succeeding in the logistics business, O’Keeffe also recognises the importance of technology and the need for a sound online infrastructure.

“Broadband is a critical factor – if broadband penetration is low that will lead to a lower level of purchasing online,” he adds.