Over 200 small, independent Irish companies have already registered for The Doorstep Market, a one-stop-shop which will enable people to shop local and buy Irish while staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis.
www.thedoorstepmarket.ie went live on the 4th April and was set up by volunteers Grace Tallon and Joe O’Connor to help businesses adapt to the current move to online sales. The website also offers a free e-commerce platform to help businesses set up quickly.
It also allows for a wide range of businesses offering food supplies and toys to clothing and alcohol to collaborate their efforts on offers and deliveries. All the Irish products are on a single site and allow customers to easily purchase from multiple different suppliers in a single transaction, much like Amazon or Etsy.
We spoke to co-founder Joe O’Connor about the voluntary initiative, what the platform offers and the changing shape of Irish consumerism.
Grace and Joe both knew each other from working on similar projects throughout the years. Recognising the ‘good appetite for supporting local businesses’ in response to the crisis, it seemed only logical to help as many businesses as possible to get online as quickly as possible. “Irish people want to help support their small, independent businesses get through this crisis in whatever way they can,” explained Joe. “With The Doorstep Market, they can now do that in a single place, from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
“It’s not limited to businesses that were online before – half the businesses had no online presence but the other half did,” Joe said. “The fact is that it is an aggregator and gives more reach to those already online than on their own channels.”
This is not a simple directory of online shops either, as customers can buy from multiple shops in one go, making it essentially a virtual market; easily accessed for both customers and sellers.
There are many benefits for shops to go online using this initiative – one being that it is a free and efficient revenue channel. Joe believes that it is a hub for business collaboration also; stating for example that small outlets in the same town could create hampers together and share delivery costs. In order for businesses to succeed he wants everyone to promote the site and create a ‘collective effort and community’ which will lead to the success of the site.
In order to qualify to use the system, businesses will need to have less than 50 staff, with Joe stating the majority that they deal with now are significantly smaller than that. Companies will also be assessed on how they have treated their staff with Joe stating that they must ‘have done their best to help their staff’.
There is a short registration form to complete in order to join and after that businesses need to set up payments – either Paypal or direct bank transfer or both. The employer will then have access to an employer dashboard, where they can add their own products and descriptions and shipping options, with all functions available. As it is a voluntary initiative there are no fees or commissions.
Joe thinks that the future of sales will change as a result of the COVID 19 crisis. “I think both business and consumer bevahour will not go back the way it was,” he said. “Some businesses never had a need to go online but now there is no going back.”
A lot of smaller producers undoubtedly would have relied more on face-to-face communication for sales, but now they are being somewhat forced to adapt. And although, when restrictions ease and there may be a return to more traditional sales methods the most value can be achieved, according to Joe, ‘through using both options’.
Feedback so far to the site has been positive, with people grateful that they have been given an option to continue trading. “The fact that we’ve had over 200 businesses sign up in a week will make it more appealing,” he said. “Our number one goal is to help.”