Trading Online Voucher Scheme: Cash to Boost Your Online Trading
What is the Trading Online Voucher Scheme?
In 2014 the National Digital Strategy for the Irish Government identified that Irish businesses were missing out on a potentially huge number of online sales. To help boost the trade chances for Irish businesses with Irish consumers they developed the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS). This scheme is designed to aid the online development of small businesses to help them trade online, boost sales and reach new markets
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Here are a few of the statistics that the National Digital Strategy uncovered that made the Irish Government decide that they needed to do something to change this trend. They found that 9 out of 10 shoppers would research a product online before making a purchase, and that Irish shoppers are spending about €14,000 every minute online, BUT of the €14,000, €10,000 is being spent outside of Ireland – that’s only €4,000 being invested into the Irish economy and supporting Irish businesses.
What exactly is the Online Voucher Scheme?
This voucher is financial assistance of up to €2,500 with co-funding of 10% from the business. This means that a €250 investment from your business will result in a total of €2,500 to invest in tools to enable you to trade online (or enhance your eCommerce capability). This is an amazing opportunity for you to develop your online presence and massively increase your sales.
Your investment amount is what you can afford. If you have €100, then you will have an trading online voucher fund of €1,000 to upgrade your online capabilities.
This is a revision to the existing scheme, which requires a 50% co-funding investment from the business. This revision is only open for applications received between 7 April 2020 and 30 September 2020. So you still have a few months to decide if it could work for your business – but not too long.
Does Your Business Qualify?
The online vouchers are intended for businesses that have little or no e-commerce presence – that means you either don’t have a website, or the website you have is basic and may not enable you to take online purchases. You have 10 or fewer employees; and you have an annual turnover of less than €2m. Sounds right so far? You must also be trading for at least 6 months and be able to provide clear proof of 6 months of trading to your local enterprise office.
If you have already received a trading online voucher and your business needs an upgrade, you can now apply for a second voucher.
Who Doesn’t Qualify?
This is specifically for small traders who need a boost to help keep them afloat in the wake of online progress and trends. Therefore, if your business has charitable status, or is a ‘not for profit’ organisation you will not be eligible. Likewise, Commercial semi-state companies, trade associations and company representation bodies – such as Chambers of Commerce will not qualify.
Is it Worth it Though?
Government wondered the same thing. With this outlay in business grants they wanted to make sure that the money being handed to small Irish businesses were actually achieving what they had hoped. The businesses that received the Trading Online Voucher were surveyed and they found that there was an average increase of 21% in sales; 73% said that the online business was additional to existing sales.
There was also an increase in customer queries with businesses reporting an 84% increase, meaning that their name was getting ‘out there’ and a reputation was being built. Amazingly 3 out of 5 businesses began to export their products outside of Ireland. Finally, their businesses were growing, with an expectation to recruit one or more employees and 89% said that the online trading component would be important for their next 6 months of trading.
Sounds too Good - What Can the Trading Online Voucher be Used For?
This is a grant that is designed specifically for you to get your business in line with the current shopping trends of 2020 and the future. It is very versatile, however it is to be used for developing an online presence and, if it’s part of your business, being able to take online money transactions.
This means you can invest in a website developer, who will be able to work with you to design a website that reflects what you are trying to sell. Or even work on a website you already have and give it a more modern feel, and also to ensure it works just as well on desk top PCs and laptops as tablets and smart phones. If you wanted to do your own development you can purchase the software you need to do so.
You can also use it to put an online purchasing system into operation, or even a booking system.
If you feel your website is sufficiently robust, but you need to develop more of a marketing strategy or purchase online advertising, you can also use this voucher. You can either use it to hire a consultant, or pay for training to develop your own skills specifically for managing online trading activity. The only restriction is that the advertising cannot make up more than 30% of your trading online voucher total.
You can do one or all of this, depending on how much you have to invest and where you feel your business could use the boost the most.
What Do You Need to Do Next?
If you’ve met the criteria (which can also be found here) you can make the application through your Local Enterprise Office you will be required to attend a training session that will give you impartial advice and information helping you to make an informed decision about where to best invest your money. You will also have to get 3 quotes to purchase what you want.
Why Wouldn’t You?
This is an amazing opportunity for you to increase your online presence, market base and most importantly your revenue. The Irish Government are very keen for Irish businesses to be key players in the online trading market and have set this up so that your business can succeed in this fast-paced market.