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Market Direct (online shopping + farmers market)

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by Startacus Admin

At Startacus we love to support local business - we also love to shop, so to combine these two passions there's nothing we like more than leisurely strolling around the nearby farmers’ market and treating ourselves to all the goodies our area has to offer.

It’s great to know exactly where the food in our bag has come from and better still to actually speak to the person who has produced it. It’s hard to imagine anything more far removed from this most hands-on approach to shopping than the ever growing trend of ordering groceries online... it may be convenient but by gum it’s impersonal!

So when we heard about a gentleman in County Limerick, Ireland who has embarked on a new venture attempting to mix the convenience of online shopping with the unique experience of the farmers’ market we simply had to speak with him.

Introducing Keith McGuigan, who hopes his innovative new website will change the face of online shopping forever.

So tell us Keith, what first inspired you to set up

I love going to the local Farmers’ Market on a Saturday and chatting to the stallholders, buying great local produce and products. However as I have two young kids I don't always make it on a marketdirect.ieSaturday, so I decided to try and buy local produce online and found it very difficult to find a good selection of quality Irish goods. My research backed this up and I found that most small businesses in Ireland have a poor online presence due to lack of time, money and expertise. aims to solve these problems and open up the internet economy to small producers, manufacturers and craftspeople in Ireland.  

What would you say are some of the most unique aspects of is an innovative website - it is a unique market type experience for consumers. They are able to build a relationship and trust with the stall holders just as they would do in their local farmers’ market.

The company will marry the website experience with the physical market experience by encouraging stall holders to offer discounts at the physical market stalls to members of Market Direct and by having a flag flying in their stall. This will encourage consumers not able to make it to the market to purchase online and also tourists can become regular customers as opposed to one-off purchasers.

One issue that consumers have when purchasing from the internet giants of EBay, Amazon or Etsy is that they don’t really know who they are buying from. they will be able to view the social media feeds from the stall holder and the YouTube video should they wish. will promote and sell Irish products and produce both at home and abroad. There is a huge market for Irish products but unfortunately currently there is not enough access to Irish goods online and therefore most online consumers in Ireland are purchasing products from foreign countries.

You say repeatedly on the site that you are dedicated to helping small businesses reach their potential, why do you think this is so important?

I am passionate about small businesses and about driving the Irish economy forward. Not back to the way it was, but forward to a place where it is growing sustainably due to jobs being created by Irish entrepreneurs and their companies, not fuelled by a property bubble or by large multinationals creating local employment while searching for the next tax break.

There will undoubtedly be people reading this who are planning to set up their own online retail space, what advice would you give to help them along the way?

When setting up your own business surround yourself with honest positive people. It is important to distinguish between positive people and yes-men. Yes-men should be avoided at all costs as they will just feed your ego, cloud your vision and drive a spear through the heart of your business. Positive people will not agree to all of your decisions or actions but will give constructive feedback and opinions based on their own experiences.

What do you think the future will hold for the traditional farmers’ market?

The traditional farmers’ market will always have a place in society however I do believe it is changing and the markets that are slowest to change will disappear. It is still hard to find up to date information about most of the markets in Ireland online. There are probably too many small markets in rural Ireland and these are more likely to merge into bigger markets over time.

There is a misconception in Ireland that certain goods are not suitable for  online sales, yet this is untrue and one of my goals is to change this mindset. Everything can be sold online once you have the correct packaging. Fresh produce is more suited to online sales as it doesn't need as long a shelf-life as it does in most shops, it can be made to order or freshly picked and arrive at the consumer the next day just like at the market!

Good luck Keith and - we think this is a brilliant website and we look forward to hearing lots more about your success in the future!

If you liked hearing about Keith’s innovative approach to online shopping you might also like to check out this recent post-  Master of Malt.

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Published on: 31st August 2013

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