Which locations spring to mind when you hear the term “fashion capital”? Paris, Milan, New York, London, right? However, as more and more consumers are shopping on their tablets and smart phones instead of on the high street (online retail sales in the US reached a record $89.1 billion in Q4 of 2015), a new type of fashion capital is emerging – one that can provide the technological innovation necessary to support the rapidly expanding e-commerce industry.
Ireland has been the European home to e-commerce titans Amazon and eBay for quite some time, and over the last number of years has become a premier international location for the most innovative fashion tech and e-commerce companies in the industry, including Gilt Groupe, Etsy and Overstock.com. More recently, Zalando - Europe’s leading online fashion platform - unveiled its brand new Fashion Insights Centre in Dublin’s Silicon Docks. And just this month Ralph Lauren, one of the world’s premium lifestyle brands, announced plans to build a global e-commerce hub in Dublin, cementing Ireland’s reputation as THE European location for e-commerce.
With all of this activity in the areas of fashion and e-commerce in Ireland, it’s no wonder so many international companies are taking notice. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that make Ireland such an attractive location in this space.
1. Ireland boasts a huge international tech community.
Ireland has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to winning investment from multinational companies. Well-established tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Twitter and LinkedIn all have pan-European bases in Ireland, while the next wave of disruptive innovators – the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox and Slack – are also putting down roots here. In fact, well over 1200 companies have chosen Ireland as the strategic base for their European operations.
When asked why the company chose to locate in Ireland’s capital, Kruti Patel Goyal, Vice President of International at Etsy said “Dublin was chosen due to its strong technology cluster, the availability of our required skill sets and the strength of “Brand Dublin” internationally.”
“Dublin was chosen due to its strong technology cluster, the availability of our required skill sets and the strength of “Brand Dublin” internationally.”Kruti Patel Goyal, Vice President of International at Etsy
2. Ireland is home to a broad pool of tech-savvy international talent.
Ireland has a young, highly educated, multilingual workforce and access to a labour pool of over 500 million people across the European Union and beyond. In fact, in 2015 the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook ranked Ireland 10th in the world for the ready availability of skilled labor and 1st in the world for the flexibility and adaptability of the workforce.
Commenting on Zalando’s hiring expectations for their new Fashion Insight Centre, Eric Bowman, VP Engineering said “We're looking for the best engineers and data scientists in Dublin, Europe and the world, people who thrive on solving hard problems and delivering impact.”
3. Companies can ramp up quickly and easily in Ireland.
Ireland is one of the easiest places in the world to do business, thanks to flexible labour laws, world-class technology infrastructure and a low corporate tax rate of 12.5%. We also offer a 25% R&D tax credit and a best in class Knowledge Development Box – the only OECD Compliant Box regime globally. These factors allow companies to scale quickly and efficiently in Ireland. Take Gilt for example: since it first set up in Dublin in 2011, the company has more than doubled its Irish workforce and opened a customer support and shared services center in Limerick.
According to Gilt’s CEO Michelle Peluso, the Irish technology team “has been instrumental in further developing Gilt’s core e-commerce platform, bringing a combination of engineering discipline, innovation and a passion for quality that is rare.”
4. In Ireland, small start-ups rub shoulders with international tech giants.
In recent years, Ireland has become a veritable hub for innovation, as illustrated by the rich variety of indigenous Irish companies in the fashion tech and e-commerce space. Some examples include FrockAdvisor, a customer service and engagement platform connecting independent retailers and boutique fans; VonBismark, a company that uses motion capture and augmented reality to allow consumers to interact with digital inventory; and Profitero, an e-commerce analytics company that monitors what shoppers are viewing and buying online. The fact that these home-grown start-ups happily co-exist and collaborate with big multinational companies is a testament to Ireland’s open, interactive environment.
5. In Ireland there are strong collaborative links between industry and academia.
Ireland also has a rich ecosystem of research and innovation centres that frequently partner with industry. Centres such as the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content and Media Innovation, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and The Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce (IC4) conduct world-class research on issues such as content management, recommender systems and personalisation – all hot topics in the e-commerce space right now.
6. Companies can provide world class Customer Support from Ireland.
Ireland has a strong track record of providing world class Customer Support to consumers. For example, companies like Hertz, Starwood, Amazon, Airbnb, Yahoo, PayPal and EA all have customer support operations in Ireland. A major reason for this is that Ireland attracts multilingual talent from across Europe and the world. In fact, the non-national population in many Irish support centers can be from 20+ different countries, including China, Japan, the Nordics and Eastern Europe.
7. Ireland encourages artistic freedom and innovation.
Creativity and innovation is inherent to the Irish people, it’s in our blood. From the literary genius of Joyce, Beckett and Wilde to the scientific innovation of Robert Boyle and Lord Kelvin, to the musical prowess of Enya and U2, the Emerald Isle has always been a breeding ground for creativity, artistic freedom and innovation. Ireland also boasts some heavy hitters in the fashion design industry: pieces by Philip Treacy, Orla Kiely, Louise Kennedy and John & Simone Rocha have graced the world’s catwalks and adorned many international celebs.
So there you have it – 7 indisputable reasons why fashion tech and e-commerce companies choose to locate operations in Ireland. To find out more, check out www.idaireland.com or follow us on Twitter @IDAIreland.
Marketing Analyst - Technology at IDA Ireland
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