Lero gets €3.8m funding to help the high street take on Amazon and eBay

20 Sep 2017

Image: 1000 Words/Shutterstock

Lero researchers at DCU have been given the task of trying to help high-street shops compete with Amazon and eBay in e-commerce with €3.8m EU funding.

Taking on the might of the largest e-commerce platforms on the planet might appear to be a bit daunting, but Lero researchers at Dublin City University (DCU) have undertaken the task, bolstered with significant EU funding.

With a budget of €3.8m, Lero will head the ‘Pioneering the Digital Future for Omnichannel Retail Managers’ (Perform) programme to enable European high-street and online retailers to counter the competitive threat posed by foreign global players such as Amazon and eBay.

Under the programme, the consortium members of Perform will train and manage a team of 15 PhD researchers across five countries, including Ireland, in technologies such as the internet of things, big data and advanced analytics.

It is also expected to touch on the latest trends in e-commerce, such as augmented reality, novel payment systems and visualisation concepts for EU stores.

With the backing of the EU, it is hoped that smaller stores in the retail sector will be able to assert themselves in the highly competitive space, develop sustainable business models and adopt some of the latest e-commerce technologies.

Vital for sector’s survival

“Established business models need to be revised as customer behaviour is changing,” said Lero researcher and head of the programme, Dr Markus Helfert.

“Consumers no longer prefer online or in-store purchasing but switch between channels to suit their personal requirements. Therefore, it is vital to assist European retailers in the digital transformation and the blurring of online and in-store behaviour that is occurring.”

From DCU, the four-year programme will lead a consortium from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, but Helfert admitted that the result of Brexit means that the UK will be sorely missed from the project.

“One of the sad implications of Brexit is that academic peers in the UK are missing out in participating in exciting European research programmes like this that are being awarded now,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic