Retail is our largest indigenous industry, employing over 300,000 people
Changing consumer habits and recent global events are just some of the factors that have contributed to changing the face of retail forever.
In recent years, ambitious retailers of all sizes around the country discovered the far-reaching opportunities that exist in the ecommerce space, with the chance to compete for international sales.
Businesses that already had a presence online are taking the opportunity to enhance their digital offering and capabilities in order to expand, grow sales both domestically and internationally, and to reach new markets.
Smaller and independent brick and mortar shops are now also taking the opportunity to compete for sales against global giants.
Retail in Ireland is a crucial part of our economy.
The sector is actually our largest indigenous industry, employing over 300,000 people and accounting for 23pc of the State’s tax revenues, representing up to €7bn in tax to the State.
This hugely important sector plays a crucial role in stimulating local economies, sustaining employment and supporting lively and vibrant communities across Ireland.
For ambitious retail businesses, selling online represents a significant opportunity to potentially open up to an international customer base.
Enterprise Ireland is committed to increasing the capability of Irish businesses to grow their export sales, so we are keen to support retailers to develop their online capability and to take advantage of the global market. In addition to opening new channels to market and driving sales, an online presence can also increase brand awareness and loyalty amongst customers.
The Online Retail Scheme, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland, provides direct financial support to retail companies to develop a more competitive online business offering to complement their in-store offering and to grow sales internationally.
One Irish business that successfully availed of the scheme, and now enjoys increased business as a result, is Navan Hire and Hardware, as Keith Donegan explains: “The Online Retail Scheme has supported Navan Hire and Hardware to undertake a project and body of work on our digital offering, which ultimately enabled us to expand and grow our business by reaching new customers and entering new markets.
“These upgrades to our digital offering, made possible by the Online Retail Scheme, have supported us to significantly increase sales, improve our customer service and to develop new work processes. This work has supported us to future proof our business.”
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD this week opened a new round of the scheme, and there is €9.3m available in this round of funding.
This call is open to both new applicants and those who have previously availed of the scheme. Previously, companies were only allowed two approvals in a three-year period, but this time, to help repeat applicants continue their successful ecommerce journey, such limits have been removed.
In addition, this time the focus is on building digital capability, with a higher weighting in the scoring assessment for an internal champion – to encourage in-house skills-building so the company can update and improve their site internally without having to pay for additional expertise when the site requires changes.
The Online Retail Scheme is open to all Irish-owned retail businesses with both a physical and online presence.
Applicants should also have 10 or more full-time employees and the potential to sustain or create jobs, generate growth in online transactions and want to grow their business internationally.
This round of the scheme is intended to help retailers enhance their digital capability, with the aim of increasing their customer base and building a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace, both online and offline.
Application is easy and available online at enterprise-ireland.com/retail.
Now is the time to extend your retail business to an international audience and the unlimited opportunity that selling online can provide.
Anna-Marie Turley is department manager for Retail, Consumer and Online at Enterprise Ireland