7 October 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
The website – eStreet.ie -is an initiative from The Ludgate Hub – a technological hub dedicated to creating jobs and innovation in rural West Cork. The Ludgate Hub offers broadband connections of 1000MB connection and utilises the digital age for job creation and innovation.
The eStreet initiative hopes to encourage Irish consumers to purchase goods locally, starting with retailers in the ‘1GB town’ Skibbereen.
eStreet is in partnership with An Post; other supporters include Granite Digital, Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and West Cork Local Enterprise Office.
Working with Skibbereen’s retailers Ludgate developed the eStreet model to allow businesses to trade online easily making use of shared technology, funds and knowledge.
To boost the presence of rural areas in an economic and sustainable way, eStreet encourages a collaboration and pooling of resources.
To date 11 retail businesses in Skibbereen have signed up to the website and will be selling a wide range of goods and products.
Oscar-winning film director, Lord David Puttnam – Board Member of Ludgate Operations, said: “The world of retail, like every part of the economy and of society, is being fundamentally transformed by the changes in consumer behavior driven by digital technology.
“We are really only at the beginning of this transformation as the advent of 5G mobile connections will unquestionably accelerate change on every front.
“The Ludgate Hub is ideally positioned to help the community it serves reinvent itself for the digital age, by opening up world markets to our local businesses and providing fresh opportunities for jobs and investment.
The eStreet project is an essential component of this ambitious wider initiative.”
Lord Puttnam is also Ireland’s Digital Champion.
Triona McCarthy from TV3 said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this launch. I am proud that I was made in West Cork and I am proud of the things we make in West Cork!
“When I was a child, Skibbereen was like a metropolis to me! It didn’t seem like a small town at all. Now many years later, Skibbereen is still bigger than it seems with the launch of Ludgate’s eStreet connecting it to the global marketplace.
“Places change and evolve and must move with the times and I couldn’t be more proud of how this small town thinks big, modernises, and renews all the while preserving what makes it so special, the people.”
Barney Whelan from An Post said: “An Post is an integral part of modern e-commerce in Ireland. No other delivery company has the reach and local knowledge to deliver to every premises every working day. We have also developed a suite of products such as Delivery Box, AddressPal and ReturnMyShopping.ie to facilitate internet trade.
“Of equal importance to us is the need for significant investment of this type to contribute to the development of rural Ireland. It is very important and should be supported.”
eStreet allows retailers in Skibbereen to embrace modern technology and ship all orders made by one customer on the website together. Ludgate hopes that the website will allow retailers – as well as the Skibbereen community- to help reinvent themselves.
As opposed to retailers spending €3,000 – €4,000 individually on website developement, graphic design and other costs, the eStreet retailers only pay a modest yearly participants fee, about 25% of a traditional, individual website’s costs.
This contributes to a collective fund, half of which is reimbursed by the Local Enterprise Office Trading Online Voucher Scheme. By offering retailers a shared collaborative template that reduces overall costs, eStreet is contributing to a more sustainable and shared economy.
“eStreet.ie is paving the digital path for other towns and areas to follow a collaborative eCommerce model. The site is set to become Ireland’s first fully, inclusive eCommerce community portal, which is the future of shopping for all rural areas and towns and the key to their future sustainability.” said Gillean Guy, eStreet Initiative Manager with the Ludgate Hub.
Irish consumers spend 3.7 billion euro online annually and online marketplaces are proving to be an area that rural regions can capitalise on.
Ms Guy said that the second phase of the eStreet initiative would present opportunities to enable other towns nationally to trade online in 2017.