Retailers awarded €5m to boost their online sales

Average grant given is €37,500, with more than 130 retailers approved

More than 130 retailers have been approved for a total of €5 million in grants aimed at strengthening their online presence and driving sales.

The funding is the third tranche awarded under the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme, administered by Enterprise Ireland. Retailers awarded funding span a range of sectors including jewellery, fashion, sports, homeware and furniture, healthcare, electrical goods and equipment.

The scheme is aimed at retailers who want to reach a wider customer base. Retailers must be Irish-based and have a physical store and a pre-existing online presence, with 10 or more employees. It focuses on retailers mainly selling products to individual consumers, rather than business customers.

The average grant awarded was €37,500, covering up to 80 per cent of costs, but funding ranged from just over €14,000 to €40,000.


Ecommerce space

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English said there had been a positive response from the sector.

“We know that consumers are keen to support their local retailers when shopping in-store and online, and these grants will help businesses to really maximise the opportunities in the ecommerce market. Of course, this market is not limited by geography and we know that ambitious Irish businesses with strong online resources also have their eyes on selling to customers right across the globe,” he said. “The economic value of operating in the ecommerce space and its convenience for customers has come to the fore since the onset of Covid-19 and the Online Retail Scheme will help companies improve and maximise their digital sales potential.”

The scheme attracted almost 300 applications. More than two-thirds of the successful applicants are outside Dublin, with 90 retailers approved for funding.

Physical stores

Enterprise Ireland’s Ross O’Colmain said it was clear that Irish businesses were aware of the opportunities offered by ecommerce opportunities both at home and abroad for online retail. “Whether new to ecommerce or already operating a transactional website, this scheme aims to facilitate a step change for each of the successful applicants in the operation of an efficient online sales platform that complements their physical stores,” he said.

“Grants through this scheme are being used by retailers to upgrade their systems to improve their digital presence and to become more competitive in the virtual marketplace. This is helping to broaden their customer base and grow sales with some companies reporting that they are recruiting extra staff as a result.

“Ultimately, retailers who are investing in their online presence will be more resilient and better able to take advantage of evolving market opportunities.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist