Rural Companies Flourish Online

The enticing option of leaving the city and making an online living in rural Ireland

In modern Ireland, the cost of housing in the main urban centres is eye-wateringly  expensive and simply paying for the roof over your head, cripples any hope of enjoying other activities such as eating, driving and enjoying a sneaky pint after work!

It is little wonder that city folk, in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, are eyeing their country cousins with envious and jealous looks.  This ironic turn of events comes after decades of pompous disdain at the lack of bread and gin varieties available in your average Irish village.

Now, the lifestyle of rural Ireland has it all.  Panini’s, hummus, cocktails, nature, beautiful views and an easier pace of life.  Housing prices is just the tip of a large iceberg offering a better living standard. The eternal question for city slickers anxious to how to leave the rat race, but still maintain a living wage in the rural setting.  Online business’s have been the option for many rural folk and it could be the way forward for anyone seeking a more fulfilled life in the sticks.    A strong online presence may be the key to having your cake and eating it.

Quilt Yarn Stitch is one company who have both a shopfront on the high street and a busy, vibrant website. This beautiful fabric, yarn and craft store in Tuam, Co. Galway wanted to model their online presence on the personal experiences of their actual store.  www.quiltyyarnstitch is a flourishing, bright and engaging website. Róisín McManus explains ‘We wanted to have a webshop that customers would truly love and that would be their “go to” shop for all their needs, particularly for patchwork and quilting.   Our actual store is bursting at the seams (pardon the pun) so there’s something for everyone and we hope our website reflects this.   Our team love to serve fabric to yarn lovers of all kinds – quilters, dressmakers, knitters, crocheters, crafters, guys and girls, young and old- We feel  our website  is a place, like the shop itself, where you can find lots of lovely things.”   With a flat rate of delivery in Ireland of just €3 and a reputation for great customer service, QuiltYarnStitch has expanded their customer base far beyond the town of Tuam, and is now competing well in the lucrative school market providing Leaving Cert and Junior Cert packs.

Of course, good broadband infrastructure is a key to managing a rural online business.  If you are used to fast and unlimited, it can be a shock to go West and experience the digital divide first hand. The Irish Government has reiterated its commitment to providing Broadband connectivity to the entire Ireland in the coming years.  For those living in the ‘black spots’ of internet access, precariously poised on the wardrobe in the back bedroom to improve the signal to an outdated dongle, this is particularly good news. Some 50% of small business in the Cork/Munster rate their connectivity as less than excellent, so the improvement to the network is definitely needed. However, It is worth noting that most rural business cite the cost of going online as a much bigger barrier to change, than the connectivity issue.  In the IEDR SME Digital Health Index for 2018, only 6% of online businesses’ said that poor internet connectivity was preventing growth.  Certainly, it has not hampered some companies.

Quickcrop,  www.quickcrop.ie is a thriving company operating in a rural setting in South Sligo Andrew Davidson and Niall McAllister sell vegetable growing systems and products for the keen amateur (and professional) gardener.  Most of their business is online. Niall explains, “The internet gives you access to 7 billion people and you can build a business here very quickly. The reason we’re in Ballymote is because there’s good broadband here and the warehousing costs are quite small”. The secrets to Quickcrop’s success lies in their great products and service showcased through a vibrant, well designed and constantly updated website.  Niall is aware that it is an unlikely business to do well online, and yet it succeeds with a healthy domestic trade, while also doing well in the UK and European Market.

Working from a more relaxed country setting is not the only reason for enhancing your online presence. The Retail and Consumer Report of 2018 confirms that more and more Irish people search for goods and services online prior to purchase and that mobile Ireland has the fifth largest percentage of internet shoppers in the world.  That’s an incredible amount of retail therapy for one small country!  In 2017, keyboard consumers in Ireland spent a staggering €3.3billion.

Panelshack is a small family run business located in Drumnagran in Tullyvin, Cootehill   Co.Cavan. www.panelshack.ie. John Brady has been in the fitted furniture business for over 40 years. In 2010 he and his son James expanded the range and began manufacturing high quality wall panelling. The increase in popularity and the trend towards painted timber and furniture being used extensively in homes ensured success. They produce the panelling products in their workshop and host an extensive the showroom in Tullyvin.  A modern mobile optimised website, with an easy click and collect option and comprehensive delivery system ensures that they have plenty of clients who never ever set foot in Cavan.  A dynamic web presence is their key to providing a high quality product to a large and diverse customer base.

But it is not just manufacturers and retailers who prosper in a more rustic setting.  Rachel Gotto www.rachelgotto.ie conducts her Galway and online therapy consultations through a beautiful, informative and helpful website. The big sky and fantastic views of Spiddal are the backdrop to her successful business.

In Summary

There will always some reluctance before deciding to finally swop the stilettos and maccachinos for some stout walking boots and, well, maccachinos. (It’s not that backward in the villages anymore!)  The move to the good life is very enticing.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up to clean air and the sounds of nature, knowing that the bank balance is now as healthy as your lungs?  The cost of living is significantly lower in the Western Region than in Dublin and other areas. You get so much more for your money.  Housing is, of course the most obvious difference, with average rural rentals at just €613 per month and three bed houses for sale between €90 -120K So, it may well be time to consider that ‘big move to the country.  Rural companies are thriving online. So why wouldn’t you?

Resources

https://www.pwc.ie/reports/retail-consumer-report-2018.html

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/sligochampion/news/online-retail-can-work-in-rural-hub-35430638.html

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