Aideen Brennan, Cllr Joe Flaherty, Mark Usher and Lorraine Higgins at the recent retail meeting in Longford. Photos: Michelle Ghee.
More than two thirds of Longford consumers are now doing their shopping online, a meeting has heard.
They were the startling figures presented to members of the public at an open forum on the challenges facing local businesses in Longford town.
Entitled 'Longford Retail 2020-A Vision', the study and brainchild of local Cllr Joe Flaherty surveyed over 200 consumers by asking them a series of questions related to their everyday shopping customs.
It also found that almost 70 per cent of respondents are not satisfied with the choice of shops Longford town currently offers.
The meeting heard from a number of keynote speakers, including hospitality guru and Longford town native Padraic O'Kane, Homestore and More Regional Manager Aideen Brennan and Lorraine Higgins of Retail Excellence Ireland.
Mr O'Kane, a native of Longford and the main protagonist behind hospitality and event specialists corporate.ie confessed many of the challenges facing Longford businesses are comparable to those in Dublin.
The red haired entrepreneur was at pains to stress however that retailers must embrace what Cllr Flaherty had earlier termed the 'fourth industrial revolution'.
“We are in a time of rapid change and we need to adapt,” he said.
“When we opened Fire, our flagship restaraunt in 2005, there was no such thing as a smart phone or social media, we had to do our best to get on the front pages of newspapers and build our business from there.”
They were matched by Ms Brennan's admission that consumers were a much changed animal to those of a decade ago.
“It’s about the experience our people give the customers when they come into the store,” she said.
“In the past customers looked for a product that satisfied their need at a fair price and if they had a good shopping experience they went home happy.
“Today’s customer wants more. They want loyalty, they want you to engage them and they want a brand experience.”