In-person events give ‘massive value’ to NI business community - eComm Live 2021

  • Having live business conferences in-person is “imperative” in telling the stories of the local tech community, says Philip Macartney, Chief Commercial Officer at IRP Commerce.

    IRP is the lead sponsor of eComm Live 2021, Northern Ireland’s only dedicated ecommerce event.

    Stormont ministers announced on Thursday (12 August) that conference halls and exhibitions in Northern Ireland can resume from Monday 16 August, in its latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

    This is good news for eComm Live, which is set to hold up to 500 people from 22 - 23 September online and in Belfast’s Assembly Buildings.

    Philip, who is also a keynote speaker at the event, is eager for the return of live audiences in a safe, socially distanced space.

    He said that IRP “isn’t typically there for the ecommerce start-up or small story.

    “We’re about rapid growth, massive profitability and internationalisation,” he added, and noted that like many companies, his gets “massive value” out of live conferences.

    IRP Commerce is lead sponsor of eComm Live 2021, and CCO Philip Macartney is speaking at the event

    “One of the biggest things in my job is to try and explain what IRP is and it’s not a simple process,” he told Sync NI.

    “We’re a very complex ecosystem with technology at the centre of it. We need an elongated, immersive experience to be able to properly tell our story to the people we want to tell it to.”

    He noted that while other sectors have suffered invariably throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, ecommerce has thrived, growing “five years in 18 months”, and thus feels the industry can give back through eComm Live.

    Tech giants set for Belfast 

    Kevin Traynor, founder of eComm Live added that “ecommerce has saved a lot of traditional businesses from going bust” during the coronavirus crisis, such as through restaurants selling meal boxes online.

    Therefore, he views the conference, which first launched in 2019, as a way to thank NI’s ecommerce industry and give them “the platform to promote themselves”, with IRP at the forefront of that stage.

    RELATED: NI's only ecommerce conference to take place in September

    “IRP is our key partner, they’re a local technology company and a great success story,” Kevin continued.

    “We’re also bringing Google, Facebook, Klarna and Snapchat. They’re going to be in the city, exposed to us and we’re going to be exposed to them. It’s win-win. There’s nothing negative about this conference.

    “Everyone’s going to benefit, from the taxi drivers to the hoteliers, to the university students who will be volunteering, to IRP to us at Grow Consultancy and all the other agencies.”

    eComm Live 2021 will take place at the Assembly Buildings in Belfast and online 22 - 23 September

    As well as the conference itself, Kevin plans on bringing representatives from the visiting global tech giants to a gin distillery tour, a street art trip, a visit to the Titanic museum and more, to showcase all that Belfast has to offer.

    Philip also acknowledged that pre-pandemic, IRP would go out and meet with people and potential clients, to explain the business. Whereas now, a lot more people are coming to the company for advice.

    RELATED: Find out about the latest upcoming tech events in Northern Ireland via Sync NI's calendar

    “We have a lot more people coming to us and asking, ‘What else is there? How do I move forward?’" the CCO explained.

    “The way I described it previously, was that the pandemic has possibly opened the eyes of everyone to the fact that we do live in a global marketplace.

    “Massive infrastructures were built overnight to enable companies to pivot to this.

    “Global supply chains can be quite flexible. What’s it’s done for the smaller retailer, is that it’s allowed them to see beyond Amazon and the bigger players.

    Brexit presents 'unique opportunity' for NI ecomm businesses

    While Covid-19 has presented setbacks for other sectors, it’s fair to assume that the uncertainty of Brexit and its implications have contributed to that pressure.

    Again, for ecommerce businesses in Northern Ireland, Kevin believes that Brexit has actually put them in a “unique position”, as from here they could sell to Britain, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe.

    “The regulations around being part of Europe and then coming out of Europe mean that we’ve got a competitive advantage over companies based in GB trying to do the same thing,” he said.

    “We should be taking to other international ecommerce businesses about coming and setting up their headquarters in Northern Ireland because of that competitive advantage."

    Kevin feels that not only should NI maximise this opportunity, but “exploit it to its maximum for the benefit of the local economy”.

    RELATED: Is artificial intelligence the future of e-commerce?

    Philip added that IRP is launching a report through a project the company has started, called ‘The Northern Ireland Centre of Ecommerce Excellence’, which will focus exactly on what the ecommerce opportunities in NI are.

    The report will be launched either at eComm Live or in and around the end of September.

    Philip will be onstage at eComm Live, talking about the change that the world has gone through and all things trading as it pertains to ecommerce.

    Find out more about eComm Live 2021 and buy tickets here. 

    RELATED: Selazar: 'Levelling the ecommerce playing field for small-to-medium businesses'

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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