Tuesday 21 February 2017

Government incentive helps small business get in on e-commerce

Published 27/04/2016 | 13:56

E-commerce is crucial to any business but especially small ones
E-commerce is crucial to any business but especially small ones

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources explains why trading online is important and outlines how its €2,500 grant (Trading Online Voucher Scheme) can help small businesses

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What is the Trading Online Voucher scheme?

Gear Jewellers in Dublin availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
Gear Jewellers in Dublin availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO)

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is a Government initiative to assist small businesses to trade online. It is targeted at micro businesses with 10 or fewer employees and less than €2m in annual turnover. It provides a flexible incentive for small business owners/managers to address the barriers for their business to trading online.

Operated through the national network of 31 LEOs, the scheme offers a financial incentive of up to €2,500 to develop their trading online capacity along with training, mentoring and networking support

Why is the Government involved in boosting e-commerce among small businesses?

Irish consumers spend over €7bn annually online or around €850,000 per hour, 24 hours a day. With up to 70% of Ireland’s annual online spend currently going overseas, targeting Irish businesses for online trading is a key jobs and economic imperative.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources recognises the importance of enabling all citizens and businesses to realise the full social and economic potential of the digital world. Ireland’s digital economy is driving sweeping change in business, education, public services and utilities, home life and recreation.

A key element of the National Digital Strategy is focused on helping enterprises to move online. It recognises the significant potential for growth that comes from online trade, from finding new customers in new markets, to engaging and retaining current customers and adapting to their needs.

Fabucci Footware, Naas, Co. Kildare, availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
Fabucci Footware, Naas, Co. Kildare, availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO)

The Department’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme is specifically designed to help small and micro businesses to access the benefits of internet-based commerce. European Commission research suggests that companies which develop a meaningful online trading presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people.

Why is it so important that small businesses start trading online now?

Olivia Smyth of The Stork Exchange used the Trading Online Voucher in 2014 to develop a purpose-built website with an integrated booking system which allows her to efficiently manage bookings and closely monitor stock.
Olivia Smyth of The Stork Exchange used the Trading Online Voucher in 2014 to develop a purpose-built website with an integrated booking system which allows her to efficiently manage bookings and closely monitor stock.

The revolution in business brought about by digital technology and content has grown over the past decade to the extent that it is now being widely referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

Customers and suppliers are increasingly driven by digital technology, from research and buying, to product innovation and the logistics and fulfilment value chain.

All Irish businesses are affected by the changes occurring in consumption patterns. How customers find your business and how they evaluate what you have to offer has changed dramatically.

The customer journey is impacted by two things: the always-in-your-pocket-or-bag digital device and the array of digital connections from social media, forums discussions etc. These devices, and the people they connect, determine more and more the amount of business you do.

Why have so many small businesses not yet started trading online as yet?

We estimate that although most small businesses have a web presence less than one in four actually trade online. Trading online can appear to be a complex challenge with so many technologies available, so many experts to talk to as well as the investment needed to make it happen. Help is now available through your Local Enterprise Office (LEO). Despite the temptation to ‘kick the can down the road’, the reality is that nearly 90% of Irish consumers use the internet to research and buy products and services.

What types of businesses have availed of the scheme so far?

Over 2,000 vouchers have been awarded to businesses so far under the scheme while double that number benefitted from expert advice and peer-to-peer support by participating in the LEO information seminars. Businesses from every county have been involved.

What has been the impact of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme?

Our research on businesses which have participated in the scheme shows that sales grow by over 20%, leads by over 80%, three out of five businesses start exporting and job numbers grow by 35%.; In addition, 80% of respondents to our survey said the application process also helped them in business strategy planning.

For many businesses, the question is not ‘should I be trading online?’. The question is ‘how do I start trading online?’. At least 2,000 small businesses have found answers to that question and a helping hand to take that step through the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Some of them are your competitors.

The first port of call for any small business thinking of developing their trading online capacity is to contact their relevant LEO.

Local Enterprise Office Numbers
Local Enterprise Office Numbers

Contact details and more information can be found at www.localenterprise.ie

 

Sponsored by: DCNR

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