Dalys Goes Digital

30th Aug 2023

Dalys Goes Digital

Situated on William St. in Limerick City, Daly’s Hardware has been an emblem of community strength and traditional service for over six decades. Founded in 1958, this family-owned store, now steered by Ali Daly, is undertaking a groundbreaking journey into the digital era.

"Daly’s first opened its doors back in 1958. During our 65 years in business, our family has been through countless recessions, electrical fires, floods, renovations, broken chandeliers, paint spillages, and all the other challenges that come with running a business," Ali reflects. "We’ve navigated currency changes and even a global pandemic. Yet, the most recent challenges have forced us to rethink our business model. With fewer people willing to shop in-store due to factors such as COVID-19 and lack of city centre parking, we realised the imperative of making things easier for our customers, hence the development of our e-commerce store."

Ali is not just reacting to change; she's embracing it wholeheartedly. She’s been proactive in engaging customers digitally, revealing, "In a digital sense, I have started making short TikTok videos and Instagram reels with little tips and tricks to help people understand how to use certain products we sell."

The shift to digital isn't just a matter of uploading inventory online. It comes with its own set of hurdles, as Ali acknowledges. "Developing an e-commerce store is very different from running a physical shop. There's a vast amount of background work involved, from SEO to social media management, and it’s a challenge to compete with large retailers who have more resources. But we have an excellent and supportive team here at Daly’s, both family and non-family, all working towards progress, whether in a digital or a physical sense."

Ali's foray into the digital world is not just about surviving but thriving. "We are looking at ways to make this easier for people by implementing a delivery service, offering click and collect as an option, or simply by shopping with us online," she says.

By thoughtfully integrating traditional values with cutting-edge technology, Daly’s Hardware is setting a precedent for what community-centered retail can achieve in the digital era.

Digital Outreach with Personalised Experience

While Daly’s Hardware has long been a household name for its in-store customer experience, the store is also making waves in the digital sphere. Ali Daly understands the importance of a multi-channel approach to retail in this day and age. "Being able to reach our customers wherever they are is vital," says Ali, "which is why we've decided to take our expertise to platforms like TikTok and Instagram."

These digital platforms aren't just another sales channel but a space for engagement, learning, and building a digital community. "Social media allows us to offer something more dynamic than just products; we can share valuable insights and advice with our followers. For example, I regularly post short videos with tips and tricks related to the products we offer," explains Ali.

Her vision of digital outreach extends beyond mere online visibility. Daly's Hardware is working on incorporating artificial intelligence and data analytics to offer personalised recommendations and shopping experiences for their customers. "We aim to replicate the personalised service you'd get in-store when shopping with us online," Ali adds.

This forward-thinking approach indicates a larger shift in strategy, aimed at ensuring that the experience online is as rich, helpful, and personalised as it is when a customer walks into the store on William St.

Adapting to Changing Retail Trends in the City

Limerick City is a microcosm of change, its retail landscape evolving alongside technological and societal shifts. Daly's Hardware has remained an enduring presence in this volatile environment, adapting not just to survive but thrive. Ali Daly attributes this resilience to a legacy of innovation that started with her grandfather.

"My grandfather sadly passed away quite recently," says Ali. "He was a great advocate for innovation and change, always looking for new ideas to improve the business. He took chances, was willing to try new things, and always said, 'you've got to keep going and put one foot in front of the other.'"

The recent pandemic has further accelerated changes in retail behaviour, amplifying challenges for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. "The landscape of modern retail has changed drastically within the last number of years," Ali observes. "It's become extremely challenging to survive in a world where more and more people are shopping online and not visiting our city centres."

But for Ali, the physical store remains a cornerstone of community engagement and personalised service. "Having a physical shop that people can come and visit is extremely important," she insists. "It offers the socialisation and face-to-face advice that is lost in an online world. We are on first-name terms with the vast majority of our customers who have been visiting this shop for many years."

The shifting urban dynamics have also impacted Daly's. "The city has changed a lot in the past few years. Unfortunately, we've seen many of our inner-city retail shops close their doors or move to the outskirts," Ali says. She cites the inconvenience of parking and transporting bulky items like paint and lighting as significant challenges for customers. "We are looking at ways to make this easier for people by implementing a delivery service, offering click-and-collect as an option, or simply by shopping with us online if travelling into the city is not a viable option."

"Stand still or you get left behind," Ali recalls another of her grandfather's sayings. Motivated by this wisdom, she has undertaken the task of bringing Daly's to an online audience. "We understand the difficulties our customers have when it comes to shopping within the city centre, and we hope that this might make things a little bit easier to shop with us and support a local business," says Ali.

Yet, these challenges have brought new avenues for Daly's. "Our city centre has seen a surge in restaurants and cafes, all of whom need bulbs, general hardware, paint, electrical supplies, and so forth," Ali notes. "We go out of our way to make sure these businesses have precisely what they need, and if it's something we don't have in stock, we'll order it, especially for them.

Empowering Women and Resisting Stereotypes

Even in the modern age, gender stereotypes persist, and Ali Daly, the driving force behind Daly's Hardware, is no stranger to this. "When I was a young girl starting out in the family hardware business, I was often ignored by customers, both male and female. They would tell me they’d rather speak to a male member of staff," shares Ali. The situation has evolved but still exists, "This still happens today, believe it or not, but now I try to let it wash over me."

Ali further articulates the generational gap in women's approach to DIY tasks. "I also frequently hear from some of my older customers, especially when buying DIY items, 'I’ll have to wait to get a man to do that for me.' Many older women may have lost a husband who used to handle all the DIY tasks around the house."

The drive to empower women has been a motivating force for Ali. "I like to take time to show these ladies small tips and tricks to make life easier and enable them to do these things themselves. Sometimes, it takes a woman to show a woman," she says. This inspired her to create specialised workshops for women. "It’s from this recurring phrase that I conceived the idea for workshops designed specifically for women and led by women. I’m in the early stages of developing these workshops, but the concept has been brewing for years," Ali elaborates.

The workshops will focus on simplifying the complex world of hardware stores: "I want to teach simple DIY and electrical tips, and explain what products to use and when, because hardware stores can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the surroundings and products."

Ali is excited about future collaborations within the community, especially with fellow female professionals in the industry. "Being in the trade, I know quite a few young women working in the industry, and women in trades-based jobs are becoming more common. One of the best electricians in Limerick I know is female, and I would love to collaborate with her on my future workshops."

By addressing the gender gap in the DIY industry, Ali aims to promote both the practical and psychological benefits of self-sufficiency, helping women feel confident and capable in traditionally male-dominated spaces.

Collaboration with Local Professionals

Navigating the complexities of today’s digital landscape requires a cohesive and multifaceted approach. For this reason, Daly's Hardware has formed strategic partnerships with local experts Vigilant Minds and Emma McCartney, bringing additional layers of expertise to the business.

Ali Daly acknowledges the transformative impact of these collaborations: “Before working with Stephen and Vigilant Minds, my knowledge of SEO and keyword search analysis was minimal. Without the input of Stephen and Vigilant Minds, my e-commerce store wouldn’t be half of what it is now.”

Vigilant Minds specialises in crafting digital strategies optimised for today's market, aiding Daly's Hardware in everything from SEO to e-commerce enhancement.

Ali also attributes the design aesthetics of Daly’s Hardware's digital presence to her collaboration with Emma McCartney. "I chose to work with Emma McCartney of Emmateur Design to design our online logo and help with any graphics design work I’ve had to do. Like Stephen, Emma and I hit it off from the minute we met, and I knew immediately that our values were aligned,” she shares.

By enlisting the expertise of Vigilant Minds for digital strategy and Emma McCartney for design, Daly’s Hardware is creating a robust, well-rounded customer experience that extends both online and in-store.

Daly's Hardware is launching its revamped website on September 1st, accessible via www.dalyslimerick.ie. This new platform will serve as an e-commerce hub and a place where you can find detailed blog posts, in-store event announcements, and more.

But the digital transformation doesn't stop there. Daly's Hardware has embraced the power of social media to engage and inform. Keep your eyes on their Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook channels for real-time updates and behind-the-scenes content.