The IE Domain Registry (IEDR), which manages the .ie web address, has launched an e-commerce website development fund worth €100,000 in total for Irish SMEs.
The OPTIMISE fund will let 10 Irish SMEs implement fully featured transactional functionality into their existing online presence, allowing them to sell their goods and services online 24/7 globally.
They will each receive €10,000 worth of technical and marketing support in order to upgrade their sites into major e-commerce presences.
The fund is open to application from any organisation classified as an SME or micro-enterprise with an existing website which is publicly accessible and has a .ie domain name. The closing date for applications is 3 June 2011.
Ireland still behind in e-commerce
IEDR established the OPTIMISE fund in order to raise awareness about how slow many Irish companies have been to take advantage of what the web can offer with e-commerce.
According to its Domain Name Industry Report, published in November 2010, just 66pc of Irish businesses had any website by 2009, which isn’t a huge leap from 40pc in 2000.
Of these 66pc, only 21pc had e-commerce functionality on their site, another small increase of 3pc from 2000.
“The .ie domain is highly respected both nationally and internationally and we want to see Irish businesses using it to make the most of the 24-hour sales channel that is the internet,” said David Curtin, chief executive of the IE Domain Registry.
“Our research shows that the next growth phase of the internet in Ireland depends on the SME community here and their willingness to embrace new technologies to build better, fully featured e-commerce websites.
“Too many Irish SMEs are still reluctant to make that transition. We know that great websites attract people online and encourage them to spend more time consuming advertising, products and services.
“Until such times as SMEs in Ireland grasp this, they continue to lose competitive advantage by missing out on lucrative sales opportunities online,” said Curtin.