From 1 July 2014 small businesses throughout Ireland can apply for digital vouchers in helping their businesses trade online. 1000 vouchers will be available for qualifying businesses through the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices between now and the end of 2014. Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to €2500 as the Government has allocated €5 million for the rollout of the trading online voucher scheme. The scheme has been successfully piloted in Dublin City earlier in the year and some finding of the soft launch included:
- 70% of companies see more customer inquiries.
- 55% have had more sales.
- Most companies are primarily trading domestically but export expectations have increased with business expecting to get 30% of sales from export markets within 6 months.
- Business owners & staff are devoting more time to trading online.
- 60% expect to recruit online staff within 12 months.
Why Is Online Trading Important?
With the trend ever increasing towards online spending it is estimated that only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in E-Commerce sales. For businesses employing less than ten people this percentage is even lower. It is now believed that of online purchases made in Ireland, 70% of these are done in overseas markets. There is now an urgency to ensure that businesses recognise the changing environment and that they are encouraged to correctly respond to this digital reality. The digital part of the economy in Ireland is growing at 16% per year – that is just over 5 times the rate of growth of the rest of the economy. The objective of the scheme is to help small businesses grow their sales, exports and ultimately jobs. Trading online is not only a big opportunity for small businesses, it is becoming an essential part of business strategy.
Who Can Apply?
The application process for the vouchers is a competitive one open to a range of small businesses. The vouchers are targeted at businesses with the following profile:
- Limited Online Trading presence.
- Less than 10 employees.
- Turnover less than €2m.
- Applicant business must be registered and trading for at least 12 months.
- Business must be located in the area covered by this phase of the scheme (within the remit of the participating LEOs).
What the Vouchers can be used for?
The vouchers can be used in a variety of areas including:
- IT consultation.
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website.
- Implementing Online payments or booking systems
- Purchase of Internet related software.
- Purchase of online advertising (up to 30% of voucher costs).
- Developing an App (or multiplatform webpages).
- Implementing a digital marketing strategy (Social Media Marketing).
- Consultation with ICT experts for early stage adoption.
- Training specifically to establish an on-line trading activity.
I’m sure there are some Terms & Conditions?
Naturally there are always some terms and conditions attached to these type of schemes.
- Vouchers will be available to a maximum value of €2,500.
- Voucher approval must be gained prior to incurring any expense.
- Own labour is not an eligible expense.
- Third party costs only will be considered.
- Use of vouchers for brochure websites is not allowed.
- Purchase of non-internet related software is prohibited.
- Anything other than online trading activity cannot be redeemed.
- Third party costs only will be considered
- All supplier invoices must contain proper business details.
- Applications are limited to the second phase regions of the roll out. These include Dublin City & County/ Cork City & County /Kerry/ Louth/ Sligo/ Waterford.
What’s the Application Process?
Step 1. Make yourself aware of all the details of the scheme (contact us)
Step 2. Attend Local Enterprise Office Information Session
Step 3. Apply for Online Trading Voucher
Step 4. Your Application will be Assessed.
Step 5. Vouchers issued to Successful Applicants
Step 6. Spend your Voucher
Step 7. Send in your Complete Expenses Claim and get paid
Visit Avid Partners for further information on the scheme. Click here www.avidpartners.ie/news for further details. Avid Partners can assist in the application process and can carry out some of the online trading work applicable to the scheme. Call us on 01 4286900. www.avidpartners.ie