Online Retail Scheme
The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) has launched a further call for Online Retail Scheme aiming to encourage the retail sector in Ireland to develop a more competitive online offer that will enable an increase in their customer base and build a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace both online and offline.
This is a Competitive Fund which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of DETE with a total fund size of €3.4m.
Applications for funding are invited through a public call for submission of projects.
Recording of a webinar outlining the application and evaluation process that took place on 18th April 2023
- Call Open date: 4th April 2023
- Call Close date: 3rd May 2023 at 12.00pm (noon) for online application
(note the required Accounts must be submitted not later than 5.30pm on 3rd May 2023)
This call is now closed for applications.
Due to a high level of interest strict adherence will be given to the deadline for receipt of applications together with statutory accounts.
The purpose of this fund is to help Irish-based retailers with a pre-existing online presence to:
- Support their digitalisation,
- respond to both domestic and international consumer demand for online shopping,
- strengthen small retailers in finding and retaining customers with their existing infrastructure,
- protect their physical operation by enabling growth through an online marketplace and new shopping avenues,
- support capability building for digital skills
- create new roles within the business in e-commerce and supporting activities
Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 50% of the project eligible costs of €50,000 with a maximum grant of €25,000.
Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence and strategy include research, consultancy costs for strategy development, implementation and in-house training.
Who can apply?
The applicant must be an Irish based retail enterprise that has 10 or more full-time employees and has the potential to sustain or create jobs, generate growth in online transactions and with an ambition to internationalise their business in future. An application must be submitted in the name of a company registered with the Companies Registration Office and incorporated in the Republic of Ireland at the time of application.
The business must also:
- have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media)
- have a physical retail store and derive the majority of company revenue from retailing products directly to individual consumers:
- Where a company provides both products and services, the applicant must provide a breakdown of sales revenue showing that products account for more than 50% of total revenue for a recent trading period, which may be up to the call close date
- Where a company has a mixture of business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) operations, the applicant must provide a breakdown of sales revenue showing that sales from B2C activities account for more than 50% of total revenue for a recent trading period, which may be up to the call close date
- employ at least 10 employees in the Republic of Ireland on a full-time equivalent basis in the latest accounting period or has grown to this level since that date (up to the date of current call open of 4th April 2023)
Successful applicants from previous calls are eligible to re-apply under this call, once they have
- been awarded Online Retail Scheme grant before once only,
- completed the project funded,
- proposed a clearly different project to that undertaken under a previous approval.
Enterprise Ireland reserves the right to refuse applications from previously successful companies if it is not sufficiently clear that the project is different to that previously funded.
These criteria also apply to related companies within a group structure (Companies which are part of a group structure with the same ultimate ownership).
Companies eligible for this call who had unsuccessful application(s) in a previous call(s) will be eligible to re-apply with an updated and modified proposal under the Online Retail Scheme Call 2023. (Call 5)
The Scheme is NOT open to the following:
- Companies that do not meet all of above criteria
- Companies which are currently clients of Enterprise Ireland and are eligible for other funding assistance from Enterprise Ireland
- Projects which do not propose significant additional functionality to the online presence of the applicant company will be considered ineligible
- The minimum project expenditure is €20,000. Applications with expenditure below €20,000 will be considered ineligible.
- Companies who have been approved twice (or more) in previous Enterprise Ireland Online Retail schemes are not eligible to apply for the Scheme again. This also applies to multiple applications from a group. (Companies which are part of a group structure with the same ultimate ownership).
- Companies where the principal business activity is the provision of a service rather than retail of products. Examples typically include, and please note that this list is not exhaustive, mechanics, fitting of tyres, tattoo artists, funeral directors, medical, dental, veterinary, accountancy, legal services, travel agents, grooming and beauty services, hair salons etc.). Where a company provides both products and services, the applicant must provide a breakdown of sales revenue showing that products account for more than 50% of total revenue for a recent trading period which may be up to the call close date.
- Companies where the principal business activity is the provision of financial services and products (e.g. mortgage, insurance brokers etc.)
- Car and vehicle dealerships
- Companies where the principal business activity is the wholesale or re-sale of goods to other businesses or construction trade professionals
- Companies which are primarily marketing or buying groups acting on behalf of retail stores
- Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online assistance. If you are operating under a franchise, please ensure that you provide clarity in your application as to the nature of your relationship with the franchisor i.e. what online and offline help is provided by them
- Companies active in the primary production of agricultural products, fishery and aquaculture
- Companies active in the provision of hospitality and leisure services (e.g. hotels, guest houses, restaurants, coffee shops etc.)
- Companies active in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages where consumed on the retail premises
- Sole Traders with a business name registered with the Companies Registration Office
- Applications which include or relate to activities that Enterprise Ireland considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk. Ineligible activities include activities relating to: the gambling sector, including ‘gaming’ (as defined in the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956), adult entertainment, tobacco products and cannabis-based products which are not authorised as medicines;
- Companies which are part of a group structure with the same ultimate ownership may only submit one application for the group - note that the eligibility requirements apply to the group in that if any group company were approved for support on more than one occasion under the Online Retail scheme previously no group entity no group entity would be eligible for this current call
- Applicants who were approved any other State or EU funding for the project for which they are seeking funding
- Companies which have already reached their De Minimis aid limit
Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include:
- In-depth analysis of the company’s current and potential online presence and capabilities, target audience and brand. This research should help the applicant make informed decisions about e.g. optimisation of online marketing channels, web functionality, payment systems specification, catalogue presentation, supply chain management, consolidated inventory systems, order fulfilment and consumer experience.
- Development of a written digital strategy and a roadmap for implementation including resource and business process considerations
- Identifying how the company’s value proposition should be demonstrated online, what aspects should be emphasised and how best to present this to online customers
- Ensuring that the company’s online presence is being fully utilised / optimised to fulfil its overall potential, supporting the overall business strategy
- Consideration of omnichannel offering (including marketplaces and social media).
- Optimising the company’s online presence to ensure domestic and international visibility (e.g. web enhancement and localisation, associated business process enhancements, search engine optimisation etc.)
- Enhancing related “back end” systems (e.g. product presentation, supply chain management, systems integration to improve consumer experience etc.).
- In-house Training and/or consultancy help for knowledge transfer to the team and internal project champion to maintain a robust online retail operation, for example, e-marketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems etc.
Eligible costs include:
- Salary costs of a company's Internal Champion who is an individual either at a manager level or supported by the management team in their work on the project with an external service provider. The total costs to support the salary of the project champion and must not exceed the total External Service Provider costs. A maximum of 1 internal champion per company is eligible for salary costs.
- Fees of established External Service Provider(s) to develop a digital strategy, enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence. The grant must be used to introduce additional functionality.
- Training Course fees are not eligible, however in-house training provided by an External Service Provider to enable a company to develop and maintain a robust online retail operation are eligible. This could include training for Content Management System (CMS), eMarketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), etc.
Ineligible costs include:
- Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual
- The purchase of hardware e.g. laptops, studio equipment, cameras, leasing of vehicles, etc
- The purchase of “off the shelf” software package licences or subscriptions e.g. for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Shopify monthly subscription fee, etc
- The funding of online advertising campaigns e.g. pay per click/banner ad campaigns – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc
- Offline marketing costs e.g. brochures, printing, materials for events, models, vehicle signage etc
- Video production or photography costs
- External training course fees (unless provided in-house by your chosen External Service Provider)
- Any expenditure incurred and paid for prior to the close of the Call or after the final Grant Claim date is not eligible for assistance.
Eligible Expenditures and Limits
Expenditure claimed must be incurred by the legal entity to which the grant is offered.
The grant is calculated at a maximum of 50% of eligible expenditure of up to €50,000. The maximum grant available is up to €25,000. The minimum project expenditure is €20,000. Applications with expenditure below €20,000 will be considered ineligible.
Salaries and Overheads:
- Where the applicant is part of a group structure the Internal Champion must be employed by the applicant company and proof of payment from applicant company will be requested
- The maximum eligible salary of the Internal Champion is €200 per day (the rate per day is calculated using the actual salary on the payslip provided. (Frequently Asked Questions) FAQ section includes detailed explanation of correct calculation of the daily rate)
- Internal project champion costs may not exceed external consultancy costs
- Only time spent on the proposed project by the Internal Champion is eligible
- Claims for wages and salary support for the Internal Champion must be supported by payslips and proof of payment.
- Where the applicant is part of a group structure External Service Provider fees must be invoiced to and paid by the applicant company and proof of payment from applicant company will be requested
- The daily rate is to be inclusive of External service Provider’s time and all associated travel, subsistence and out-of-pocket expenses
- Consultancy rate is a maximum of €900 per day. A company may use more than one consultancy firm for the project however, where more than one consultant is being used from the same firm a total daily rate of max €900 per day will apply to the firm.
How do I apply?
The Scheme is a competitive offer. Submission of the project is a two-stage process, a complete application consists of an application form submitted via online portal available on Enterprise Ireland’s website and company’s most recent full year of Statutory Accounts (no more than two years old at the time of application) submitted via email. (please note that after submitting the application, you will get a bounce back email from Enterprise Ireland asking you to submit your accounts separately)
This application form must be received no later than Call close at 12.00pm noon deadline on 3rd May 2023 in order for your application to be deemed valid with accounts submitted no later than 3rd May 2023 at 5.30PM close of business. Applications in any other format will not be accepted. All sections of the application form must be completed in full. Applicants who fail to submit application form and accounts on time or submit incomplete applications will not be processed by Enterprise Ireland.
How is my application evaluated?
Enterprise Ireland will carry out an evaluation of all eligible applications using the following criteria:
Strength of the project with well-defined objectives, carefully planned implementation and realistic estimates and schedules (weighing 30%)
Impact of proposed changes on the competitive position and viability of the company (weighing 30%)
Ambition to internationalise the business (weighing 15%)
Internal Project Champion (weighing 15%)
The company's financial track record (weighing 10%)
TOTAL: 100 %
For information, download Scoring Criteria for Online Retail Scheme.
All applicants will be notified by email of the result of this assessment following evaluation of the call.
There are a number of steps to be undertaken in order to claim your grant. A webinar on the Online Retail Scheme Grant Claim Process and details outlining all steps and requirements to assist with submitting your grant claim are available on the Online Retail Scheme Grant Claim Forms webpage: Online Retail Scheme Grant Claim Forms - Enterprise Ireland (enterprise-ireland.com). For this call the grant claim must be submitted on or before 17th November 2023.
This call is now closed.
Potential applicants are advised to read all details on this webpage prior to applying.
Please note if you have not previously applied for support from this portal you will need to Register as a user before making an application.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
• FAQ Guidance Document
Key Contact – Online Retail Team
For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org