The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) has proposed a further call for Online Retail Scheme applications, 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 €9.3m.
Applications for funding are invited through a public call for submission of projects.
- Call Open date: Thursday 5th May 2022
- Call Close date: Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 12pm (noon)
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:
- 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,
- upskill and retain existing staff or/and create new e-commerce roles.
Applicants who have been successful in the past calls will be awarded funding to finance a maximum of 50% of the eligible project costs. Applicants who will be successful first time, will be awarded funding to finance a maximum of 80% of the eligible project costs.
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 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)
Successful applicants from previous calls are eligible to re-apply under this call, once they have
- substantially completed the project funded,
- proposed a clearly different project to that undertaken under a previous approval.
This completion criteria also applies to related companies within a group structure. Unsuccessful but eligible applicants from previous calls will be eligible to re-apply with a modified proposal under Call 4 of the Online Retail Scheme.
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.
The Scheme is NOT open to the following:
- Companies that do not have a physical retail store
- 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. For first time applicants, the grant is calculated at a maximum of 80% of eligible expenditure of up to €80,000. For applicants who were awarded funding in the previous Online Retail scheme calls, the grant is calculated at a maximum of 50% of eligible expenditure of up to €80,000.
- Companies primarily operating a business-to-business (B2B) model
- 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
- 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.
All eligible costs are required to be directly related to the implementation of the workplan. The activity proposed for funding must be additional to the activities currently undertaken by the applicant.
The workplan and all associated payments must be completed and grant claim submitted to Enterprise Ireland by 4th November 2022.
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 costs to support the salary of the project champion must not exceed the 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
- Fees of established External Service Provider(s) to further develop / enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence. The grant must be used to introduce additional functionality and
- Training Course fees are not eligible, however in-house training provided by an External Service Provider to enable a company develop and maintain a robust online retail operation are eligible. This could include training for CMS, eMarketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems, 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
- External training course fees (unless provided in-house by your chosen External Service Provider)
- Any expenditure incurred prior to the close of the call is not eligible for support.
Eligible Expenditures and Limits
Expenditure claimed must be incurred by the legal entity to which the grant is offered.
The minimum project expenditure is €20,000. Applications with expenditure below €20,000 will be considered ineligible.
- For first time applicants, the grant is calculated at a maximum of 80% of eligible expenditure of up to €80,000. The maximum grant available is up to €64,000.
- For applicants who were awarded funding in the previous Online Retail scheme calls, the grant is calculated at a maximum of 50% of eligible expenditure of up to €80,000. The maximum grant available is up to €40,000.
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
- 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.
Please note that Enterprise Ireland does not have a list of approved or recommended consultants. Applicants are strongly encouraged to vet any consultant/agency they are considering employing. Enterprise Ireland will not have any liability or responsibility for either the company's choice or the consultant's performance.
- 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, with no more than two consultants from the same firm being eligible at any one time at €900 each per day.
How do I apply?
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
Impact of proposed changes on the competitive position and viability of the company
Ambition to internationalise the business
Internal Project Champion
The company's financial track record
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 in early July.
When is the call closing date?
- 1st June 2022 at 12pm (noon)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Webinar - Online Retail Scheme May 2022 Call
Two webinars have been conducted to outline the application and evaluation processes. The recording of the most recent one, which took place on May 24th, is below: