DIGITAL Business Ireland (DBI), the leading digital, ecommerce and online business representative body has called on Government to provide clarity to Irish retailers and confirm that vital click and collect services will be re-introduced from 4th May.
While retailers recognise that the ban on click and collect services for non-essential retail which Government imposed on 31st December was wholly justified amid the spread of the virus at the time, the current epidemiological situation and new data about viral transmission outdoors in Ireland paint a more positive picture.
These new circumstances coupled with the fact that businesses across the country devised systems in the run-up to Christmas to ensure people maintain social distancing and hygiene standards while queuing and collecting goods, make it clear that click-and-collect services can be resumed in a safe and responsible manner.
Meanwhile, as many non-essential retailers, and in particular small and local businesses, are struggling for survival, and many companies had in previous months invested heavily in warehousing and distribution to meet demand, the need to lift the ban on click-and-collect services is now acute. To make the most of limited resources, retailers now need clarity as to whether they can prepare for a resumption of this offering on 4th May.
While Irish retail businesses are losing out on physical store sales, the continued suspension of their click-and-collect service exacerbates this and takes away a unique offering of local businesses that international competitors cannot provide. Preventing people from using click-and-collect services continues to harm the viability of many retailers, already suffering under lockdown, as well as severely limiting the choice for some consumers.
Indeed, recent data shows that while online transactions made by Irish consumers have been increasing in recent months, the progress made on increasing the share of that online spend going to Irish businesses has been slipping.
Irish retailers need a successful and efficient reopening to survive beyond the pandemic and this can only be enabled by the Government confirming now that click-and-collect services will resume on 4th May.
Secretary-General of Digital Business Ireland, Lorraine Higgins said: “At DBI we are dedicated to our mission of helping Irish companies make the most of the digital economy and encouraging Irish consumers to direct their online spend to local businesses.
"Click and collect services are a vital part of the digital economy, allowing retailers to make digital sales without the expense associated with setting up deliveries, costs that many may not be able to bear in these difficult times.
“Simultaneously, these services provide the consumer with a safe and convenient alternative, with no delays and additional costs, often making a click-and-collect service from an Irish business more attractive than ordering online from an external competitor.
“After four months of severe restrictions, Irish retail businesses will be in acute need of a successful reopening led by an efficient resumption of click-and-collect services. However, businesses need time to prepare stocks, staff, and strict safety measures to make the reopening profitable and safe.”