Enterprise Ireland reveals new €1.25m e-commerce fund for retailers

24 Oct 2018

Dingle, Co Kerry. Image: © diak/Stock.adobe.com

Traditional high-street shops are being pummelled by online retailers. Here’s a shot for them to fight back through innovation.

Enterprise Ireland has issued its first call for its new €1.25m Online Retail Scheme targeted at retailers that want to develop an online presence. The fund aims to encourage acceleration of their online offerings.

‘By delivering the Online Retail Scheme, we intend to support Irish retailers to innovate and, through innovation, to increase their competitiveness and enhance their online presence’

Its launch comes after it was revealed that Irish consumers will spend €12.3bn online this year, with much of that going to overseas retailers. Shockingly, according to recent IEDR research, only three out of 10 Irish SMEs can accept online payments.

The fund is an initiative of the Government of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, and will provide up to €25,000 in funding to up to 25 retailers, amounting to €625,000 in this first call.

The purpose is to support online retailers to enhance their online sales capabilities to increase competitiveness and subsequently scale their businesses in international markets.

“The retail sector is lucrative and highly competitive, and it is important that we encourage its sustained growth by providing the mechanisms with which retailers can actively develop wider offerings online,” said Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“My department is committed to delivering the objectives of Ireland’s enterprise strategy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed, which aims to support the creation and sustainability of quality jobs across Ireland, and to increase Irish businesses’ trading capabilities in response to external challenges like Brexit. Aligned with this, the Online Retail Scheme is intended to enable Irish retailers to effectively compete with international companies to expand their reach overseas and develop a wider customer base.”

Are you being served?

The Online Retail Scheme is open to applications from retail SMEs with 20 to 249 employees (full-time) based across the island of Ireland, and who have a retail outlet. The fund will remain open for six weeks, closing to applications at 3pm on Wednesday 5 December 2018. Interested retailers should apply here.

The fund will provide grants between €10,000 and €25,000 on a match-fund basis with the specific purpose of enhancing digital capability. The total fund size is €1.25m and areas for funding include research, strategy development, implementation and training.

“Ireland’s retail sector is a primary contributor to our economy, both nationally and at a regional level, but it is under significant pressure, particularly from international competitors with the digital means to extend their reach to Irish consumers,” said Stephen Hughes, head of consumer at Enterprise Ireland.

“By delivering the Online Retail Scheme, we intend to support Irish retailers to innovate and, through innovation, to increase their competitiveness and enhance their online presence.”

Hughes added that boosting the regional economy and returning spending to the high streets of regional towns is a priority. “Regional development is a significant pillar of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy and we understand the role played by retail SMEs in regional communities. To this end, once the fund criteria is met, at least half of the total number of funds will be awarded to Irish retail businesses based outside of Dublin.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years