The Trading Online Voucher Scheme assists small businesses to trade online. Eligible businesses can apply for a voucher up to €2,500 to cover 50% of costs.
In 2014 the Irish Government in its National Digital Strategy identified the relatively low level (approx 20%) of online sales by Irish businesses as a key failing and also the growing threat from international online sales. As part of the national digital strategy, a target was set to have a further 2000 Irish Micro Enterprises trading online, to recoup some of the 70% of sales value being from outside of Ireland.
The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) launched a Trading Online Voucher (TOV) Scheme which would be delivered by the Local Enterprise Office Network nationally.
The voucher, which can be redeemed by successful companies, up to a maximum of €2500 (excl of VAT) can assist companies with less than 10 employees and less than €2million of revenue to develop their online sales. The voucher can be used for a variety of activities including website development, website content including video and photography, marketing strategy to drive awareness, App development and a max 30% of the overall value can be used for online advertising. Training and software directly related to the ecommerce site can also be considered.
All potential applicants, must attend an information session which explains the process and highlights key considerations for the business to ensure success. Each business must submit an application form and three quotes for all work the wish to complete. If successful, they are issued letter of offer detailing scope of work
Approximately €3 million per annum from the Department of Communications, Action Climate and Environment plus Local Enterprise Office staff time. Vouchers are allocated to each Local Enterprise Office. Local management required to run information session, process applications and complete process.
Evidence of success
Businesses that received the Trading Online Voucher were surveyed and the results indicated:
•21% average increase in sales
•84% experienced an increase in customer enquiries
•73% said online business was additional and did not displace existing sales
•Growing businesses expected to recruit on average 1.4 more employees
•3 out of 5 businesses had begun to export,
•For 89% trading online component will become more important in the next six months.
Video Case Study: https://youtu.be/JugYd
•Delay in organising content for seminars
•Additional workshops had to be organised to help businesses understand the work required to start trading online
•A business can only receive a voucher once, limits scope to develop, or stage the development.
• Need to be trading for 6 months.
Potential for learning or transfer
Potential learning is the simplicity of the scheme – open to all micro businesses in any sector, delivered locally, limited bureaucracy, significant outcomes achieved, etc.
The model and voucher scheme could be adopted by another regional or national government intending to assist companies to start trading online or to start exporting.