As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on sales margins for businesses across Ireland, a Galway-based skincare business has found a lifeline in e-commerce.
Rí na Mara, founded by Deirdre and Seamas Mac Chathmhaoil in 2004, has never been more reliant on online sales, which the owners say are essential.
Alongside its own website, Rí na Mara joined eBay in 2019 as a way to reach new customers in a move that proved fruitful, especially over the past few months.
“Since COVID-19 hit, trading online has become an essential element for our business and we were fortunate to have our eBay store up and running and taking orders,” said Deirdre.
“Normally our sales are split 25% online 75% instore, but since March 2020 this has drastically changed, with 60% of sales coming from online and 40% instore.”
Born and raised in Co. Tyrone, Deirdre studied nursing and cosmetic science in college before moving to London where she worked in a dermatology clinic.
Returning to Ireland to An Spidéal in 1990, she decided to combine her local know-how on the health benefits of seaweed with her knowledge of dermatology.
This led to her creating the luxury skincare range many know and love today.
Over the years, the husband and wife duo has built up a strong network of stocklists in Ireland, with Rí na Mara now stocked in health stores, pharmacies, hotel spas and gift shops nationwide.
Having conquered the Irish market, and not one to back away from a challenge, Deirdre then decided to expand Rí Na Mara overseas.
In February last year, Rí na Mara opened a storefront on ebay.ie as part of the e-commerce site’s Retail Expansion Programme, an initiative designed by eBay to help local Irish businesses reach new domestic and global audiences.
Speaking about the programme, Deirdre said that they joined eBay to build their brand identity online and to increase their sales channels – and within three months, they had hit all their objectives.
“eBay understands our Irish business and has actively and enthusiastically worked to promote it. The support is fantastic.
“Through our anchor store, we have brilliant e-commerce resources at our disposal, such as a language translation tool which allows us to publish online content in multiple languages such as French, Spanish, and German.
“The benefit of this is we are portrayed in these markets in the way in which we want our brand to be showcased, something which is very important to a brand like us with provenance and authenticity.”
COVID-19 and Christmas
When hotels, spas and non-essential shops were forced to close during Lockdown in March, Rí na Mara, which means ‘King of the sea’ in English, had to depend solely on e-commerce to stay afloat, with eBay having a huge role to play.
Now, with COVID cases at an all-time high, the business has, yet again, been forced to depend solely on online trade.
But despite the badly-timed Level 5 lockdown, Rí na Mara is staying positive and will be focusing its efforts on online sales as the festive season approaches.
“This year, more than ever, people have become accustomed to purchasing online and the convenience of having it delivered straight to their door.
“It’s something we are aware of and we will be focusing our efforts on eBay in the months ahead.
“People are also more aware of their choices and how that can affect Irish businesses and the local economy. There’s been a real push to shop local this year and it does give us some hope that all is not lost.”