Digital Business Ireland, the country’s leading representative body for digital, ecommerce and online businesses is today calling for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to be expanded in order to facilitate the growth of Ireland’s e-commerce sector. The organisation contends this can be done by allowing those businesses that never availed of funding under this scheme to be able to do so for digital marketing purposes and building consumer trust.

In its current form, applicants for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme are only eligible if they have little to no online presence. The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) scheme currently allows businesses to develop their digital footprint, through the establishment of a website, with grants of up to €2,500. The June 2020 revision of the scheme – as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19 – was essential in helping many businesses make the transition online, after public health restrictions imposed significant restrictions on footfall through physical stores.

Digital Business Ireland and .IE’s most recent Tipping Point Survey 2022 – which surveyed 500 retail and consumer-facing professional services SMEs – emphasised that many SMEs see their websites as crucial for generating sales, with over half of the respondents looking to significantly expand their online presence within the next five years. However, the growth of Ireland’s digital commerce sector faces heavy competition from international retailers as some consumers view them as more competitive on price and product range.

Another issue facing Irish online retailers is trust – with many consumers citing cybersecurity as a key concern in the latest Tipping Point report. Allowing trust products such as online reviews technology to be included within the remit of an expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme would allow consumers to trust and purchase from online Irish SMEs rather than losing out to international webstores.

Chair of DBI, Ashley McDonnell said “Government’s National Digital Strategy must develop with the needs and requirements of businesses that have already made the transition to online, and who are now looking to expand their reach through the use of digital marketing tools, or investment in trust technology to make their offer to its target segment more competitive in the international market.”

“By increasing opportunities for e-tailers in Ireland to reach new consumers, this will have wide-reaching benefits for the Exchequer and at DBI we firmly believe that an expansion of the remit of the scheme should be seriously considered, in order to enable and empower businesses to thrive in the digital marketplace.”

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