Online presence now more important than footfall

Budget 2021 supports for businesses need to reflect our digital reality

An online trading presence is now more important than footfall on the high street according to the Chief Executive of Digital Business Ireland (DBI), Ms. Lorraine Higgins as the representative organisation seeks increased supports for online businesses in their pre-Budget 2021 submission to Government. 

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe who has been furnished with the Budget submission has been told that DBI believes there now exists a huge export potential as more and more shoppers move online while Coivd-19 restrictions remain in place while a large percentage of this new digital business is likely to move permanently from the High Street. 

Ms. Higgins said: “While these are very uncertain times for businesses at the moment, it also represents a major opportunity to embrace the digital business world. Having an online presence is now more important than footfall on the high street and Government must recognise this with direct supports in Budget 2021. Irish businesses must be ready to increase their online presence or else be ready to watch other countries take our markets.”  

According to DBI, the digital part of the economy in Ireland is growing at 16% per year – that is more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy. The digital economy already supports almost 95,000 jobs both directly and indirectly and this figure is continuing to grow. 

Ms. Higgins explained: “Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the conversation on new business models and a clear shift towards a more digitalised future. For Ireland to take advantage of this post Covid-19 digitalised world, Government must be willing to take up the mantle of driving national and EU stakeholders towards a coordinated approach to enhance and safeguard our digital future.” 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that over the course of the Covid-19 economic shutdown, a 200% increase in retail sales online was observed and there was a 50% increase in the number of domains registered (IEDR).  

“Irish consumers and businesses are now more confident to conduct business online, 

however more needs to be done to encourage micro and small enterprises to embrace it’s 

potential.” 

DBI is asking Minister Donohoe to consider: 

 * Increasing funding for online supports under the DTOV scheme and the Online Retail Scheme to reflect the growing digitisation of businesses 

* Introducing a new layer of funding under the Digital Trading Online Voucher to €10,000 to help businesses acquire a fully functioning eCommerce website 

*Changing the eligibility requirements under the Online Retail Scheme and remove the minimum number of employees’ requirement (10) to allow scalable companies at the start of their digital journey take advantage of the supports on offer 

Ms. Higgins believes micro and small online businesses need to be facilitated to scale and grow. “Increasing facilities conducive to selling online is crucial. Many premises have over the shop facilities that need to be recalibrated to consider infrastructural needs of doing business post-Covid. These need to become micro or mini-fulfilment centres where staff with digital skills can organise orders, process them and accept payments.”

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