FOUR Limerick businesses are among the first in the country to benefit from a €5.3 million Government scheme to promote online retailing.
Green Cross Pharmacy in Annacotty, Gleeson Sport Scene, O’Mahony’s Booksellers and O’ Sullivan’s Pharmacies in Limerick City are among the 145 retailers approved for funding of between €16,000 and €40,000 from the Online Retail Scheme.
Targeted at retailers who already have an online presence to enable them reach a wider customer base, the average grant value is €36,700 and covers up to 80 per cent of project costs. 70 per cent of the successful applicants are located outside Dublin.
Welcoming the inclusion of four Limerick businesses in the latest round of funding, Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell said that retailers in Limerick had been hit extremely hard by Covid-19 and many have had to move their sales online or expand their existing online offering.
“That’s why the Government has been working to ensure they are supported in doing so during this challenging time”.
“This is the second call of the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme and I am delighted that hard pressed retailers in Limerick are benefitting,” Deputy O’Donnell concluded.
Announcing the businesses approved for funding, Minister of State Damien English said he was very pleased by the positive response from the Irish retail sector to the second call for applications.
The economic value of operating in the e-commerce space and its convenience for customers has come to the fore in 2020 and this scheme aims to help companies improve and maximise their digital sales prospects.
“We know that consumers are keen to support their local retailers, even when shopping online, and these grants will help businesses maximise the opportunities in the e-commerce market. This market is not limited by geography and physical location and we know that Irish businesses with strong online resources also have their eyes on the international marketplace.
“The Government continues to focus on helping businesses get back on track in the coming months and as more businesses reopen in the coming weeks, in line with public health guidelines, we will do everything we can to support retailers in creating safe shopping spaces for customers and staff,” Minister English concluded.
Enterprise Ireland executive director Stephen Creaner said the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme had proven to be a very attractive scheme for retailers and it was clear that Irish businesses are keenly aware of the growing e-commerce opportunitiesfor online retail.
“They also understand the necessity of operating an updated and efficient online sales platform that complements their physical stores.
“Grants through this scheme are being used by retailers to upgrade their systems to improve their digital presence and to become more competitive in the virtual marketplace. This is helping to broaden their customer base and grow sales with some companies reporting that they are recruiting extra staff as result.
“Ultimately, retailers who are investing in their online presence now are also strengthening their offering to help deal with the uncertainty and challenges that lie ahead,” he added.
The Online Retail Scheme was open to Irish-owned retailers with a physical store and an existing online presence who employ ten or more people. It focused on retailers predominantly selling products to individual consumers as opposed to those selling mainly to business customers.
Grants can be used to fund fees for service providers, develop and implement a digital strategy supported by in-house training and enhance the retailer’s website.
The scheme is in addition to the €2,500 Trading Online Vouchers, provided through the Local Enterprise Offices for companies with up to ten employees.
Mr Creaner confirmed that Enterprise Ireland will be opening a new call under the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme early in the new year.
The 145 retailers awarded funding, operate across a broad spectrum of sectors including healthcare, jewellery, fashion, sports, homeware and furniture, electrical goods and equipment.
Read the Limerick Post Newspaper’s guide to local retailers HERE