“Launch of Phase 2 an important step in the right direction” says Retail Excellence
5th June 2019
Ireland’s biggest retail representative body, Retail Excellence has welcomed the launch today of the second call of the Enterprise Ireland-led pilot Online Retail Scheme. €1.25m fund is targeted at online retailers to encourage acceleration of their online offerings. The funding, which opens for applications on Wednesday 19 June, can be used to invest in research, strategy development, implementation and training. It will remain open for six weeks, closing to applications at 3.00pm on Wednesday, 31 July 2019.
Successful Irish retailer applicants with the ambition to internationalise through a strengthened online offering can receive funding ranging from €10,000 to €25,000.
Bryan Rankin, Head of Public Affairs with Retail Excellence, noted that the funding will give Irish retailers the resources to respond to external challenges like exporting in Q4 in a difficult post-Brexit environment, flat consumer confidence and increasing business costs. While many smaller retailers have fantastic products and services that will appeal to international customers, they need to invest in eCommerce platforms and get expert advice. Retail contributes over €7 billion to the Irish economy and sustains 282,000 jobs, 72% of which are outside Dublin.
Bryan Rankin said:
“As Ireland’s leading retail body, Retail Excellence has been working with Enterprise Ireland and the Department for several years to make the case for dedicated funding to support Irish retailers to secure a greater slice of lucrative online trade, so today’s announcement of Call 2 is much-anticipated. We have been vocal in calling for retailers to receive the same sort of financial backing to exploit international markets as that made available to manufacturers and to businesses in the tech sector.
“We note the important amendments made to the application criteria for Call 2 of the scheme, responding to feedback from bodies like Retail Excellence and directly from applicants. For instance, we see it as very positive that the qualifying size of the business has decreased, from 20 employees in Call 1 to 10 employees in Call 2. This will broaden the inclusiveness and relevance of the package for the majority of SME and micro-Irish retailers, and will deliver funding where it matters.
“While we’re clear that today’s Call 2 launch is most welcome, the fact is that this scheme has been rolled out on a pilot basis, so it’s a step in the right direction. However, the level of State support and financial intervention needs to be far more ambitious, in our view. We will be working with Minister Humphrey’s office to scale up funding to a level that can impact positively on the thousands of retailers that sell Irish products and services online.
“Internationalising our retail offering is important, but so is selling more into the home market. Currently, 60% of Irish online sales are on goods from overseas vendors, so we view the Irish market as a great, untapped opportunity. As an industry, we also need ring-fenced State supports for owner-managed, micro retailers who want to make the leap from ‘bricks and mortar’ to online trading, and who employ less than 10 full time employees – the launch of today’s Online Retail Scheme does not address this group.
“Finally, we look forward to working to promote the scheme with our network of 2,000 members and 13,000 stores, and to assist them throughout the application process.”