Surge Blog

Shopping Online – Local Vs Global

article-imgIrish people are changing the way they spend and with the festive season upon us, we thought it would be interesting to explore e-commerce options.

Shopping online continues to grow and as it does shoppers’ allegiances have changed. The big, foreign, online brands have been elbowing the corner stores for a while now.

I decided to investigate just how far behind the locally-run corner shops have fallen behind and I was very pleasantly surprised. While a lot of our local stores and suppliers may have suffered from the growth of the online superstores, it seems that they are less than willing to just roll-over. More and more Irish retailers are using e-commerce to compliment their business and, despite having the figures stacked 3 to 1 against them, a lot of them now have the capabilities to compete online. This could spawn a new concept of online shopping ‘locally’ and I believe it could result in a renaissance for local enterprise.

Let’s take a look at some figures:

91% of Irish business that can sell online, do not.

54% are not mobile/ tablet friendly.

37% are not online at all.

With these figures in mind, I find it interesting that 25% of online purchases are through Irish e-commerce sites. It seems optimistically high considering that, as a nation, our e-commerce capabilities need attention. What it tells me is people are more than willing to shop Irish and local online despite the relatively juvenile infrastructure that’s in place.

Why would I buy my goods from a local retailer when I can purchase it from an online retailer and have it delivered to my door?

Because local retailers don’t have to ship their products from overseas, they can have an item delivered to your door faster and for less.

What about the price? Surely local stores can’t compete with the value offered by the international online brands?

I would have thought this too, but I started some case studies and the results were intriguing. Let’s take a look at case study 1.

Case study 1:

Whelan Cameras, Limerick vs eBay

Product under investigation- CANON EOS 5D MARK III

Camera condition: new, unused, unopened.

Whelans Ebay

I was expecting the supplier on eBay to run away this but as you can see, when I started to look into the warranty things got interesting. I would assume, for a high end product like this, most customers would like to have a warranty included. If that’s the case, then Whelan Cameras are now boxing well outside their weight.

A 3-year warranty is an optional extra with eBay while a 1-year warranty is included with Whelan Cameras. Because they are an Irish / European based company they are also covered by the European 2 year guarantee.

The supplier on eBay has a VAT number in the UK but the contact address is in Hong Kong? This calls to question a number of things. Where is the camera coming from? Is it the UK (as I was led to believe on first inspection) or is it just a warehouse for Chinese imports? If that is the case, then the product will not be covered by European law and Canon’s warranty does not extend to Asian imports. We’re now entering an area that’s referred to as the ‘Grey Market’ where in the event of something going wrong the same level of reassurance isn’t provided by the store on Ebay.

Case study 2:

Tribikes, Limerick vs Ebay

Tribikes Ebay

In this example, Tribikes wins hands down due to tax rebates available through the bike to work scheme.

Case study 3:

The book market has been dominated by Amazon for a while now but I took a quick look at how some smaller companies compare by comparison. Taking Colm Toibin’s ‘Nora Webster’ as an example, this search provided more surprising results.

easons amazon

We can see here that Amazon led with the cheapest price but the cost of delivery let them down with their final price, coming in a good deal more expensive than both of the Irish booksellers. O’ Mahony’s provided better value than Amazon but are still trailing Easons who provide free delivery on items over €10. It’s worth mentioning that on this particular case Amazon fell behind but it doesn’t take into consideration Amazon’s capacity to sell second-hand books or e-books for Kindle


While the big names like Amazon and eBay have really set out their stall, I would definitely advise anyone in Ireland to think twice when they are shopping online and investigate if there are alternative options which could benefit themselves, local business and the local and national economy.

If you are a retailer and would like to discuss any e-commerce and web design options that might be available to you, then please feel free to contact us at Surge Media. We would be more than happy to offer some free advice.

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