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Retail Businesses Encouraged to Enhance Online Capability

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, has urged Irish based retail businesses to enhance their online capability and presence in order to exploit new opportunities to increase turnover, to expand and to sell internationally.

The Minister was speaking as he opened a new round of the Online Retail Scheme which supports ambitious Irish based retailers looking to grow and improve sales online and to strengthen their ecommerce capabilities.

The Scheme provides direct financial support to retail companies to develop a more competitive online business offering to complement their in-store offering. It is administered by Enterprise Ireland and there is €9.3 million available in this round of funding.

Minister English outlined the potential of online trading, saying, “I want Irish based retailers to have every chance of competing for online sales that are currently going outside the country. There is no reason why Irish businesses cannot successfully compete for home sales as well as international sales. The government is also determined to support more business owners to enhance their online capabilities and presence to exploit opportunities in existing and new markets.”

“The transition to online shopping was accelerated over the last 2 years and consumers retail habits have changed significantly. Many now make purchases anytime, anywhere, anyplace at the tip of their fingers or with the click of a mouse. It makes sound business sense to have an omnichannel approach to selling in order to cater for these new demands and to be competitive in the market. Almost all previous recipients of funding in this Scheme noted an increase in online sales, many in international markets and the vast majority have hired additional employees to manage their increase in online sales.”

In order to be eligible for this funding, applicant companies must have 10 or more full-time employees and an existing online presence. Salary costs of an internal project champion can be partially covered by this support. This person can be any employee who has the support of the management to take on this responsibility, and will work with an external service provider on the project.

Previous applicants of the Online Retail Scheme who were unsuccessful will be eligible to reapply under this call with a modified proposal. Applicants who were successful in previous calls are also eligible to re-apply under this round of the scheme, once they propose a project that is clearly different from their previous applications.

Jenny Melia, Manager of Technology and Services, Enterprise Ireland, said, “there have been over 500 successful approvals under the Online Retail Scheme. Companies applying for funding are future-proofing their business as they will be able to cater for multiple different shoppers. We are encouraging applicants to show us clear objectives for their digital projects, and we want them to demonstrate the impact these changes would have on their business. We are also encouraging applicant companies to assign an Internal Project Champion amongst their team, as this is an investment for them to build the in-house digital capabilities of employees.”

Minister English concluded, “the success of the Scheme is evident from the broad spectrum of retailers right across the country who have received funding to date to make the digital transition. Successful applicants in the past include retailers in jewellery, fashion, sports, homeware, furniture, healthcare, hardware, electrical goods and equipment.”

The Online Retail Scheme opens for applications from Thursday, 5 May 2022, and closes on 1 June 2022. Find further information and how to apply here:

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