Lord Puttnam is launching eStreet in Skibbereen, Co Cork. eStreet is a website that brings small Irish retailers together on one platform to a global audience.
eStreet.ie is a unique, ground-breaking project, which for the first time will enable towns to trade online by pooling their resources and expertise.
In the first phase, eStreet will enable 11 businesses in Skibbereen to trade online using a single platform while retaining the individual identity of each store.
eStreet is a project from The Ludgate Hub, a technological hub located in Skibbereen that is dedicated to creating jobs and innovation in rural West Cork. Ludgate offers broadband connections of 1000MB and has turned Skibbereen into a ‘1GB town’.
eStreet is in partnership with An Post; other supporters include the Granite Digital, Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and West Cork Local Enterprise Office.
Speaking at the launch in the Ludgate Hub, in Skibbereen today (Friday October 7th) 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.”
Instead of retailers spending between €3,000 and €4,000 individually on website management, graphic design and other costs, the businesses who take part in the eStreet project 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.
eStreet allows retailers in Skibbereen - and in the future other towns - 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. In so, doing Ludgate hopes that eStreet will gain national and EU recognition for its solution in helping combat rural disadvantage and economic decline.
By offering retailers a shared collaborative template that reduces overall costs, eStreet is contributing to a more sustainable and shared economy.
Gillean Guy, eStreet Initiative Manager, at The Ludgate Hub said: “eStreet.ie is paving the digital path for other towns and areas to follow a collaborative e-Commerce model. It is set to become Ireland's first fully, inclusive e-Commerce community portal. It is the future of shopping for all rural areas and towns and the key to sustainability.”
“It can be easily rolled out in other towns and villages and the final product will be a ready-to-go solution for towns, community groups and chambers of commerce” Ms Guy added.
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.
The eStreet project will be used as part of a European project on rural rejuvenation and will be included in a report for the South West Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017.