Online Retail Scheme

CALL OPEN: Wednesday 24th October 2018

CALL CLOSE: Wednesday 5th December 2018 at 3pm

The Online Retail Scheme was launched by the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation (DBEI) on 20th September 2018 to support eligible SMEs in the retail sector to develop a more competitive online offer.

This is a Competitive Fund which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of DBEI with a total fund size of €1.25m.

The purpose of this fund is to enable retailers to increase their customer base and build a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace both online and offline. The retail sector plays a vital role in supporting regional development and vibrant communities in every county. Therefore, at least 50% of the total number of grants awarded will be reserved for retail SMEs with their headquarters outside of county Dublin.

Applications for funding will be invited through two public Calls for submission of projects. The first Call will open on Wednesday 24th October 2018 with a closing date of Wednesday 5th December 2018 at 3pm. The second Call will be launched in 2019, following completion of the first call.

Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 50% of the project eligible costs with a maximum grant of €25,000. Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include research, consultancy costs for strategy development / implementation and training costs.

Who can apply?

Applicant companies must be an Irish-owned small or medium sized retail enterprise that has the potential to create jobs, generate growth in sales and internationalise their business. The business must also:

  • have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media)
  • have a retail outlet and derive the majority of revenue from the retail outlet(s)
  • Must employ at least 20 employees in the Republic of Ireland (on a full-time equivalent basis)

The Scheme is NOT open to the following:

  • Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online support;
  • Projects focused solely on the domestic market;
  • Projects which do not propose significant additional functionality to the online presence of the applicant company will be considered ineligible;
  • Companies which do not meet the criteria to be defined as “small” or “medium” according to the EU definition;
  • Applicants who were approved any other State or EU funding for the project for which they are seeking funding;
  • 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, restaurants;
  • Food retailers who cannot demonstrate a credible plan to reach a minimum of 10% of international sales;
  • Companies active in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages where consumed on the retail premises;
  • Applications which relate to activities that Enterprise Ireland considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk: the gambling sector, including ‘gaming’ (as defined in the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956), Adult entertainment and Tobacco products;
  • Companies which have previously availed of funding for an e-marketing improvement assignment from Enterprise Ireland or which are eligible for this grant from Enterprise Ireland;
  • Aid for export-related activities to third countries or Member States and favouring domestic over imported products;
  • Companies which have already reached their De Minimis aid limit.

Eligible Activities

Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include:

Research:

  • 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.

Strategy development:

  • 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 to 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; and
  • Consideration of omnichannel offering (including marketplaces and social media).

Implementation:

  • Optimising the company’s online presence to ensure international visibility (e.g. web enhancement and localisation, associated business process enhancements, search engine optimisation etc.); and
  • Enhancing related “back end” systems (e.g. product presentation, supply chain management, systems integration to improve consumer experience etc.).

Training:

  • Undertaking training to successfully enhance and maintain a robust online retail operation, for example accounting, e-marketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems etc.

Costs

Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 50% of the project costs. The minimum grant amount payable is €10,000 under this Scheme. Therefore, applications which do not propose company expenditure on the project of a minimum of €20,000 will be considered ineligible (the grant will reimburse up to 50% of eligible expenditure as set out below);

All eligible costs are required to be directly related to the implementation of the work programme.

Eligible costs include:

  • Salary costs of a senior internal project champion (manager level or above) in the applicant company to work with an external consultant on this project; The costs to support the salary of the internal project champion must not exceed the external trainer / consultancy costs. A maximum of 1 internal champion per company is eligible for salary costs.
  • Fees of established external consultant(s) to develop a digital strategy and further develop / enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence. The grant must be used to introduce additional functionality; 
  • Fees for staff to undertake training required to develop and implement an online retail operation.

Ineligible costs include:

  • Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual;
  • The purchase of hardware or “off the shelf” software package licences or subscriptions e.g. for Customer Relationship Management (CRM); and 
  • The funding of online advertising campaigns e.g. pay per click campaigns.

Any expenditure incurred prior to the close of the Call at 3 p.m. on Wednesday 5th December 2018 is not eligible for support.

How do I apply?

Application must be made via the Enterprise Ireland online Application system during the Call open dates. We strongly recommend that you log in and commence your application well in advance of the Call closing date. You can commence your application and save it to revisit at a later stage.

How is my application evaluated?

An evaluation panel comprising industry experts and Enterprise Ireland will score applications under the following criteria:

Evaluation Criteria

Quality of the proposal and the potential of the business to achieve sustainable growth

Potential to internationalise the business

Impact of proposed changes on the competitive position of the company

Level of change envisaged under the project in embedding a digital presence at the core of business strategy

The company’s current and projected trading, finances and employment position

Weighting

25%

25%

20%

15%

15%

For information, download Scoring Criteria for Online Retail Scheme [MS Word]

All applicants will be notified by email of the result of this assessment following evaluation of the first call.

What is the Call closing date?

The Call closing date is Wednesday 5th December 2018 at 3pm.

More information

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the Online Retail Scheme.

Key Contact

For more information, please contact

retail@enterprise-ireland.com

+353 1 727 2166