Ireland’s local retailers should prepare for winter lockdowns now by offering online click and collect and/or home delivery services to their shoppers, according to Irish digital growth agency Grofuse.

The Derry-based company has developed the new Mercury Order online ordering system which provides fast and easy ordering for customers, and is simple to manage for retailers.

Mercury Order gives retailers the opportunity to effortlessly set up an online store for free by uploading just one spreadsheet of products and start trading on the same day – with the added bonus of ‘no sales – no pay’.

Retailers pay as little as 1.8% per transaction (with a ceiling of 2.9%) – the lowest fees  available on the market today. They can easily customise slots for click and collect and/or home delivery offering for the times that suit them and their customers.

online ordering platform

Mercury Order operates as a standalone online platform or can be easily linked to existing retail websites.

With public health measures increased in Dublin, Donegal, Derry and Strabane to combat the spread of coronavirus, and other counties on the cusp on further restrictions, it’s been revealed by Department of Health-commissioned survey that almost half of people (47%) say the worst is ‘ahead of us’.

And that may have serious repercussions for local retailers everywhere who have not embraced online selling, says Grofuse Director Ian Cullen.

He says: “Last spring changed our daily lives drastically, not least in the retail sector, and as we move towards winter flu season – amid a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases – there is much uncertainty.

“With more and more people seeking their daily essentials online, it would seem prudent that local retailers find the best e-commerce solution to satisfy their customers’ increasing demand for home delivery and click and collect services. Embracing e-commerce now will also help safeguard retail staff by reducing face to face contact and help smaller independent retail businesses to compete with online supermarkets.”

Grofuse has designed and developed the Mercury Order online ordering platform to help level the e-commerce playing field for local retailers everywhere by allowing them to easily and cost-effectively implement click and collect and delivery services for their shoppers.

Mr Cullen adds: “We’ve all witnessed the queues during the spring-summer lockdowns – will shoppers be so willing to do that as the cold, wet and windy winter weather takes hold?”

Selling online was already charging ahead at pace in a number of areas prior to the pandemic, but is rapidly becoming “a need to have service” for consumers seeking local produce from their local stores too.

Mr Cullen explains: “Those who take heed of this changing behaviour and meet their shoppers demands for online ordering services now, will stay ahead of their competitors. Those who don’t, won’t. That’s because the profound shift to a consumer ‘need’ for convenient online local shopping looks like it may be here to stay.

“If products such as artisan bakery bread, butcher’s meat cuts, or farm shop fruit and veg were not searched in online stores before, now they are. E-commerce is clearly no longer a simple extension of the bricks and mortar store, rather it is becoming a necessity in order for local, independent stores to survive and thrive.

“The retail sector is pivotal to assisting a nation through lockdown and it is critical that the opportunity to meet customer demand for click and collect and delivery services is seized. This action is not only expected by customers of retail giants such Marks and Spencer, Lidl and Dunnes Stores – which have finally taken the plunge to offer online grocery ordering – but those of small local stores as well.”

Mercury Order has been named as a finalist in one of the world’s leading e-commerce trade exhibitions. The E-Commerce Expo 2020 shortlisted the retail software in two separate awards categories: ‘Best E-commerce in Lockdown’ and ‘Best E-Commerce Technology Innovation/Best Product at the E-Commerce Expo’.

ecommerce awards finalist