Garrendenny Lane is Winning With Web
The Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) invites companies from all over Ireland who are ‘Winning With Web’ to get in touch and tell the story of how they grew their small business by utilising the Internet.
In addition to showcasing the successes of businesses based at The Digital Hub in Dublin, the DHDA wanted to highlight the success stories of entrepreneurs from more traditional sectors, who are also utilising the Internet to grow their business.
Ireland currently spends close to €4 billion online each year, but 75 per cent of that goes overseas, mostly to the UK. The Digital Hub has projected that, by 2017, the online consumptive economy will be valued at €21 billion in Ireland. It is critical for Indigenous companies to strengthen their share of the online marketplace and persuade Irish consumers to favour domestic companies for their online purchases.
“I have the best of both worlds, a rural environment yet the world is at my fingertips on the laptop.”
- Lorna Sixsmith, Owner, Garrendenny Lane Interiors.
Lorna Sixsmith, who has a background in teaching, restored 5 Victorian houses with her husband while living in the UK. This set her on the path to completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Ireland in 2006 and she then eventually established her own interior design consultancy called Garrendenny Lane. Lorna launched her first online shop in 2008 and her current eCommerce website - www.garrendennylane.com - was launched in 2010. Lorna runs her business from rural Co. Laois - ten miles from Carlow and - on a dairy farm!
My business - Garrendenny Lane Interiors - is a home, gift and lifestyle e-store. We sell home accessories, jewellery, wallpapers and gifts.
Why did you establish the business online?
Following the long awaited arrival of broadband in my area I initially set up a website and blog to spread the word and grow brand awareness rather than relying on expensive advertising. The blog worked extremely well - delivering 40% of my turnover in the first year in business. I started using Twitter, in March 2009, and then I set up a Facebook business page in September 2009. With the downturn in the economy, I decided to concentrate on the online shop and focus on selling nationally and internationally in 2010.
What has been the biggest impact of utilising the internet to grow your business?
I use most social media tools and I wouldn't have a business without them. I never wanted to set up a 'bricks and mortar' shop in town as I wanted to be at home when my children come home from school and I love having an office that looks out at the fields.
Has the use of social media tools transformed your business?
I wouldn't have a business without them. I've started using Pinterest too. While it is driving traffic I can't say, as yet, if it is going to deliver on sales.
Have you noticed any increase in sales to overseas since going online?
I don't have huge sales abroad yet but a significant number is going to the US, UK and Germany. I recently set up an 'experimental' blog about wallpaper partly to demonstrate to people starting out what traffic they can expect with a brand new blog if they use the Google Keyword research tool (I also teach people how to blog effectively for their business). I found that this blog has delivered traffic to my online shop and delivered new sales, particularly to the States.
Have you hired more staff since going online?
How did you get online – did you hire someone to help you? Did you get training in the area of web development/digital marketing?
What could be done to help other businesses to establish an online presence?
I think most websites without blogs might as well be ‘dead in the water’ - unless of course, the business owners wish to spend a significant amount on Google AdWords. I believe a blog should be the core of every business's social media strategy. Blogging will deliver traffic and with strong calls-to-action, it should deliver in terms of conversions too.
I find people need to be shown how to blog effectively though, it is easy to blog, not so easy to blog well with efficient calls-to-action. Other social media platforms, such as Facebook, G+, Twitter and Pinterest can be used to build brand awareness but ultimately the goal must be to deliver traffic to the website and blog.
I set up a business last year with a friend and blogging enthusiast called Write on Track where we train people how to use social media tools either, on a one-to-one basis, in small groups or as part of enterprise board or similar training classes. We both write on the Write on Track blog in which we share lots of tips and our experiences of blogging and what we have learned. Some businesses become disillusioned with social media if it takes time to see results, however, like all things, social media takes time and skill for it to work well. Businesses need to see a social media consultant as an important advisor to helping them develop and monitor their social media strategy. Like everything, it is easy when you know how. Social media changes so rapidly, one has to work at staying informed to stay ahead in the game.
Garrendenny Lane Interiors
Garrendenny, Crettyard, Carlow, Co. Laois.
+353 (0) 86 1051007
+353 (0) 86 1051007
If your company is Winning With Web and you would like to be profiled on our website we'd love to hear from you.
- Small businesses nationwide that have survived, grown, expanded and transformed using the web.
- The business must be registered in Ireland.
- The business can operate in any sector.
- The business does not necessarily have to demonstrate that it increased its workforce, but that would be a bonus.
- Similarly, the business does not have to demonstrate that it is exporting internationally, but if it is we would like to know where its markets are.
- We are especially keen to hear about businesses in the regions and not just the greater Dublin area, although we do want to find out about those too.
Email us at email@example.com.
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