Retail businesses should apply for a new round of funding to expand their online offering and presence to customers at home and abroad, a TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins, TD for Dublin Mid West was speaking after Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English recently launched a new round of the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme worth €9.3m, to help Irish businesses to upgrade their websites and improve their competitiveness in online retail. Deputy Higgins said: “Many local companies have successfully made the digital transition in recent years and developed their online capability to sell their goods and services online.
“Consumer habits have also changed in recent years and it was great for them to know that when they went online, they had local options instead of just the large international retailers, particularly when the pandemic occurred. “Government was keen to help businesses adapt to and embrace this change, and the Online Retail Scheme was launched to help them develop and improve their offering beyond the physical shop,” said Deputy Higgins. “There have been over 500 successful approvals under the Online Retail Scheme, which includes many businesses here in South Dublin. Past applicants have included many retailers selling jewellery, fashion, sports, homeware, furniture, healthcare, hardware, electrical goods and equipment. “And businesses are rightly preparing for the future and growing their presence so that they can attract and cater for different types of shoppers,” Deputy Higgins said.
The Scheme is administered by Enterprise Ireland and there is €9.3m available in this round of funding, which opens for applications and closes on 1 June 2022. In order to be eligible for this funding, applicant companies must have 10 or more full-time employees in a physical store and an existing online presence. This is to support the clicks and bricks for Irish retailers.
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English added, “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 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 two 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.”