Trading Online Voucher – can you do more business online?
The government has updated its Trading Online Voucher scheme and expanded on an already excellent grant.
It is estimated that only 23% of Irish SMEs sell online and up to 70% of online purchases made by Irish consumers comes from outside Ireland. With this in mind, it has never been more important to invest in your online presence. Delivered through the country’s LEO offices, the Trading Online Voucher scheme is designed to help small businesses trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. The grant is available to Irish businesses with a limited or no online presence but with the capability of trading and selling online (which is nearly every business). These are some of the highlights of the scheme:
- €2,500 available
- co-funding reduced from 50% to 10% (for €2,500 you only pay €250)
- previous recipients are now eligible for a second voucher
- funding can be used for a number of marketing activities including e-commerce website, online advertising etc.
The grant provides eligible businesses an easy (and affordable) way to improve their online presence through a straightforward process:
- Attend the information session (find your nearest LEO here)
- Submit application (use button below to download soft copy)
- Voucher received – project starts and needs to be completed within 9 months
- Project completed and grant can be drawn down
Is my business eligible for this grant?
Short answer – probably. The purpose of the Trading Online Voucher is to get as many businesses as possible online and trading. And as of April 2020 you can apply for a second grant if you have already availed of it. If for some reason your business is not eligible, speak to us about our special Covid-19 offers, such as deferred payments and flexible payment plans. Below are the requirements you need to meet if you want to avail of the grant:
- Do you have a website with no / limited e-commerce capability (or no website at all)?
- Do you employ 10 or less full-time employees (any employee on 40hr/wk or more is considered full-time)?
- Is your annual turnover less than €2m?
- Have you been trading for the last 6 months?
- Is your business located in the same area as the LEO to whom you’re submitting the application?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions congratulations – you’re eligible!
Businesses that are ineligible for the scheme
The Trading Online Voucher is designed to help small and medium businesses regardless of industry, product or service. However, some restrictions do apply. If your business fall into any of the categories below, please speak to us if you want help getting online. We offer deferred payments during the Covid-19 crisis as well as very flexible payment plans.
- Companies with charitable status, commercial semi-state companies, trade associations and company representation bodies such as Chambers of Commerce are not eligible to participate in the scheme
- “Not for profit” and social entrepreneurship applicants unless they operate in a commercial domain
- Professional services specialising in IT type services who are already capable of trading online using existing in-house systems;
- Conferences and Seminars;
- Projects which are contrary to public policy;
- Duplication of support for projects which would be eligible for assistance from other State Agencies of EU funded Operational Programmes;
- Projects with employees in excess of 10 people;
- Projects deemed to be capable of proceeding in any event without scheme assistance i.e. deadweight;
- Projects essentially comprising importation and distribution
What can I use the Trading Online Voucher for?
One of the best things about the voucher is how flexible it is. It covers website development or upgrade, content generation, online advertising and much more:
- IT consultation;
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website;
- Implementing online payments or booking systems;
- Purchase of Internet related software;
- Developing an app (or multi-platform webpages);
- Development of a digital marketing strategy;
- Implementing a digital marketing strategy;
- Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity.
- Subscriptions (excluding transaction costs) to low cost online retail platform solutions, which would allow applicants to quickly establish a retailing presence online.
- Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of all other approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase);
- Purchase of Professional Photography (this expenditure cannot make up any more than 80% of all other approved voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase)
What do I include in my application?
Most of the questions in the application form are fairly straightforward. However, as the grant is decided on a points system it is a competitive process so it’s in your best interest to try and sell yourself and your business as well as you can. That extra effort might just be what nudges your application ahead of a competitor. When it comes to your overall objective, USP, target market etc. for the Trading Online project you really should be as specific as you can. Use this as an opportunity to outline what exactly you want out of this project. When you’ve written it down you can re-use it, as part of a creative brief for your supplier. They’ll also want to know what your objectives are, who your competitors are, what your USPs are, who your target market are and so forth. So you’re actually getting two things done here!
When the work is done, the grant is paid directly to the applicant (that’s you) upon satisfactory receipt of the following:
- A declaration from the supplier that basically outlines what work has been carried out, that it’s completed and fully paid for
- A declaration from the applicant stating what work had been carried out, that’s it’s been completed and fully paid for
- Original paid invoices from supplier, ensuring their legal details are fully visible (CRO, VAT etc.)
- Bank statements that show your payments to the supplier
- Supplier receipts for each component of work carried out
- Evidence of tax compliance in respect of your business
- Proof from you that your business has been trading for at least 6 months (CRO/VAT/dated invoices)
How to choose an agency
So you’ve decided to invest in your online presence and want to avail of the Trading Online Voucher. That’s great. All you need now is a supplier – an agency that can deliver what you need. But how do you choose one and what makes a good agency for you and your business? No doubt you’ve already done some research – you may have done some searching on Google or asked around in Facebook groups or even approached friends and family for contacts. Whatever way you choose to find an agency the important thing is that you approach someone and start a discussion. Ask them questions about past projects, what way do they work, how quickly can they deliver your project and so forth. At this stage, the price is not the most important question – all agencies can compromise and come down on price. However, how someone deals with you personally, what questions they ask and the manner in which they respond to you can’t be negotiated or changed. This is what should determine your choice for agency.
BEaT CLG worked with Michel of Monologue to redesign our website and he was a pleasure to deal with. He listened to us, questioned us and made us think of what we wanted to say. Now we have the website we always wanted.
Ria Stubbs, General Manager
Monologue recently designed, developed and launched a new website for the BEaT Centre using the Trading Online Voucher. The old website was a simple ‘brochure’ site that wasn’t being updated regularly. We completely redesigned the site, integrated an e-commerce solution and installed an online booking system allowing users to book and pay for their service online. We wrote new text, added new photography and greatly improved the SEO for the site. The new website is a perfect case study of what the Trading Online Voucher is for – helping Irish businesses to sell their products or services online through innovative design and promotion.