The Lock-In Podcast is back after a short break, and our guest today is Oonagh McCutcheon, Corporate Communications Manager at IE Domain Registry, which has just recorded its largest ever monthly registration of new domain names. It’s an online migration, certainly an economic symptom of the pandemic, but could it also be an encouraging sign of the way forward, as the phased re-opening of Irish society and business gets underway?
Click on the player below to play the podcast audio (download: 14:49; 9MB; MP3), or scroll down to watch the video.
7,009 new .IE domain names were registered in May, an increase of 60% on May 2019, and the highest on record. April new registrations were also up 31% year-on-year.
“We saw these numbers taking off as soon as the lockdown happened. I think, as soon as businesses realised that they had to close their doors, that they had to find another way to reach their customers”, says Oonagh.
“I know that web developers and hosting companies are reporting record demand for businesses, either to start a brand new website, or improve the website they already have, and there are lots of supports out there, financial supports to try and help small businesses to do that“
COVID-19 appears to have been the ‘tipping point’ for many small businesses who may have been thinking about ecommerce for a while.
“We’ve seen a lot of them adapting very quickly; we all know the restaurants who are now doing take-out and they are ordering it online and paying for it online, and some other businesses are pivoting from where they were. So, for example, I know, locally here, there’s a furniture maker who’s rapidly adapted to making pop-up home desks … so it’s great to be able to see companies look for that opportunity in the face of very difficult trading times”
Remote working is here to stay, she believes.
“I think there’s going to be a demand for more flexible working, from workers, and I think everybody acknowledges that, and the success of working remotely means that employers are now much more trusting. They see it works, so therefore why not let it continue and reduce commuting times and so on, but also offer the in-office experience for those workers that want to get back to the office, so it will probably be some kind of hybrid model, I would think.
“I think we can’t underestimate the economic impact that’s going to follow from COVID-19. There are going to be losers, unfortunately, and there are businesses that’ll never open their doors again, and we see some of the big tech companies putting all their staff at home until the end of the year, so the impact on bookshops, coffee-shops, you know, all the kind of discretionary spend that goes on – that’s going to be pretty big I would imagine. But I think, as well, there is an opportunity now to spread the economic benefit more throughout the country, so it’s not just clustered in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick. That people can be in Clonmel, Graiguenamanagh or wherever, and they can work very effectively from home and put more money back into their own local economies, and I think the challenge for businesses is to really up their game and offer that level of customer experience that people expect online”.