Why small businesses need to see changing consumer habits as an opportunity, not an obstacle.

This feature was originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of Better Business.


Consumer habits have changed in terms of how people shop and pay for goods and services, but small businesses are struggling to meet these needs, says Maeve Dorman, Vice President of Merchant Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, PayPal.

The increasing popularity of online shopping, coupled with the continuous growth of mobile devices, has transformed the way in which people buy products, pay for services and transfer money. With competition rife and survival at stake, it is vital that small businesses bridge the gap between what customers want and what they, as sellers, are providing.

Viewing this as a time of opportunity, in which the customer experience becomes the focus and is capitalised upon, could see small Irish businesses increase their sales potential and reach global markets.

Capitalising on the customer experience

Customer experience has never been more important with the demand for mobile-friendly websites (websites which work properly across all devices) at an all-time high and increasing numbers of people shopping on-the-go. Having a website that is easy to navigate, and offers a quick and simple checkout process with a range of secure payment options, is key.

For example, PayPal helps to streamline the checkout stage by reducing the amount of clicks required and enabling the user to pay without having to zoom and fill in details on a small screen. Nowadays, customers demand more; they want to enjoy the shopping process whilst also feeling valued and engaged.

By innovating the customer experience, and adopting payment methods that consumers are using, Irish businesses can deliver an improved and positive service. In turn, the customer is more likely to spend more and return in the future, thus increasing sales and generating customer loyalty.

Generating a global customer base

Establishing and developing a mobile-enabled website that facilitates online shopping and processes payments seamlessly is not only beneficial for customers on home soil, it also allows businesses to reach and provide for potential customers in other countries.

This is something that PayPal can help to facilitate. Our PassPort service is one which supports small businesses in expanding their reach and offers practical guidance on customs, international shipping and currency exchange.

Having the ability to sell and ship cross-border, and across the globe, allows companies to grow their sales potential abroad and establish their brand outside of Ireland. Growing sales domestically is fantastic but increasing sales internationally is invaluable.

Just look at as an example of a company that fully grasped the online opportunity. Founded in 2003 by two brothers from Mayo, has grown to be one of Ireland and the UK’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, delivering 10 million products to over 70 countries worldwide. We have been lucky enough to work closely with them throughout their exciting journey.

Securing the business model

Utilising PayPal not only brings confidence, convenience and security to shoppers, due to the trust and high-quality experience that people associate with the logo, it also creates a favourable experience for sellers. As well as the business receiving payments instantly, they will also be more protected against fraudulent transactions.

Furthermore, offering PayPal as a payment option creates an incredible and unique opportunity for businesses. With over 227 million customers in more than 200 markets, it opens up the possibility of expanding and growing sales across the world.

The fact is consumer habits have changed and if Irish businesses fail to meet these needs, in terms of online and payment enablement, their future could be under threat. Bridging the gap between demand and supply has never been more vital, or profitable.

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