March 18, 2017 - Comments Off on Tech Thursday in review: The Future of High Street Retail, From Bricks to Clicks

Tech Thursday in review: The Future of High Street Retail, From Bricks to Clicks

Our March 2017 event focused on the future of high street retail. With poor Christmas sales a growing concern for Irish retailers and Irish consumers now spending over €150m between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we discussed what proactive approaches high street retailers could adopt to develop their businesses and grow their customers.

TechThursday Kilkenny

Every business can have a tech element whether it’s visible or not and we explored this and other other elements throughout the evening with presentations from our guest speakers Justin Kearns from and Gillean Guy from eStreet who joined us via livestream from Ludgate Hub in Cork.

Running a business in Kilkenny City I routinely stroll its High Street, as a consumer and business owner I can see the patterns at play in Kilkenny’s changing retail landscape but I also wanted to share insights in terms of what’s happening globally:

  • Sales in bricks and mortar stores are still higher than online but investment in online technologies is higher. {Need a strategy: Fail to plan, plan to fail}
  • Convenience is now beating loyalty. If the high street retail is to survive, it needs to adapt — fast. {Not just location but ease of use, card payments, express service.}
  • Take the friction out. Customers are turning to online retail for its speed and simplicity. {Make it easy every step of the way, good design, easy payment methods, car parking, knowledgeable friendly staff, opening hours, exchanges etc}

Shout outs to those doing it well in Kilkenny:

  • Little Green Grocer Digital receipts: They wing the receipt for our monthly office coffee supplies digitally, so it’s in my inbox before I’ve left the shop. No more paper and true to their sustainable ethos. Easier for customers’ digital accounting.
  • Bank of Ireland & AIB Self-service banking: Removes the exchange with cashiers so no more need for small talk. Speeds up the process and removes friction.
  • Seven 7s White label technology: Local taxi company allows you to order a taxi via their app and chart its progress. Conveniently in your pocket and transparent timings.

Retail-tech can allow customers to enjoy the best of both worlds while stepping up customer choice and service to boot. Online v offline doesn’t have to be a messy divorce but can be a happy marriage of mutual respect and promotion where everybody wins.

Justin Kearns, Tucr

Next up was Justin Kearns, co-founder of; an Irish finance technology platform for online and offline retailers. Justin explained how Tucr can simplify the way shoppers can reserve items/services by taking the old concept of ‘layaway’ (where you layaway an item instore and pay it off in increments until ownership) and digitising it. Now items can be Tuced away instore and paid off in installments digitally. Irish retailers and shoppers are using Tucr and the company have secured investment from Enterprise Ireland and interest from Google through their ‘Adopt a Start Up’ programme.

Justin gave a rundown of price sensitive, mobile payment loving millennial shoppers and their behaviours but also added some statistical insights in terms of the Irish marketplace:

Tech Thursday Kilkenny

  • 85% of retail sales are offline
  • €8.5m spent online in Ireland with retailers abroad every day
  • 15% drop each year in credit card use

Justin emphasised the need to engage with online, using examples from his retail customers and the importance of online tools for your offline business:

  • Facebook messenger, promote your products on Facebook and then be available for customer service via messenger, used well this can result in sales.
  • Get your business Google page, it’s free, shows up first in search and on maps
  • Click & Collect, order and pay online but collect instore, makes it easy for customers and secures payment for retailers

Ludgate Hub, streamed presentation

Our final speaker was Gillean Guy who joined us via Cisco Systems from Ludgate Hub in Cork. eStreet is an eCommerce community portal that benefits retailers, local community and customers. Gillean is the eCommerce Initiative Manager at and outlined how purchases can be made online and shipped direct or customers can use the ‘Click and Collect’ system.

The Ludgate Hub is a working example of how communities and regions can use digital for job creation. It’s creating an ecosystem of innovation with ambitions to be a hotspot for technology start-ups and multinationals to locate and prosper at a global level.

#TechThursdayKK key takeaways from the discussion on the night were:

Webrooming: Be online even if your business isn’t trading online. Over 70% of shoppers do webrooming, where they look up products online but then choose to buy them in a physical store.

Be Found Online: Use available tools like Google My Business to be found. Also FaceBook Business/ Facebook and Facebook messenger allows you to grow followers and use facebook adverts, a/b testing cost effects, Messenger for service.

White Label Solutions: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or spend a fortune, use existing technology that others have built and apply to your business. Eg Tucr, eStreet, Alibaba -Tmall, Phorest

So in summary, we can see that customers clearly buy online but they will also buy offline, retailers must add value and convenience to the shopping experience to stop customers buying only online. Retail-tech can make the instore shopping experience as slick and seamless as online but with the right execution high street retailers can also deliver a tangible experience that simply can’t be recreated online.

Thanks to Sullivans Tap Room for providing the March venue and here is the slides from the event.

Next month:

We’ve secured the Medieval Mile Museum as the next venue for #TechThursdayKK with thanks to LEO Kilkenny.
Tech Thursday Kilkenny

Join us in Kilkenny’s newest visitor attraction in April where we’ll be putting Tech in Tourism through its paces with a Kilkenny slant. Details to follow shortly. Admission to the event is free but limited ticketing. Keep up to date by signing up to the newsletter and follow @redlemonade and #TechThursdayKK on twitter.

Published by: John Cleere in Tech Thursday Kilkenny

Comments are closed.