Earlier this month the government launched the National Digital Strategy for Ireland. In 2012 less than ¼ of our small companies were selling online. This means we have an online trade deficit where 70% of our online spending is going outside the state. The Digital Trading Vouchers come with the audacious goal of getting 10,000 businesses online for the first time. The “trade on line” voucher scheme means your business can apply for a maximum voucher value of up to 2500 euros. So what’s involved?
With McKinsey research showing that SME’s who adopt internet trading “grow twice as fast and export twice as much” when compared to non-adopting businesses. “Therefore, online trading represents a significant opportunity for Irish SME’s to reach new markets and grow new business”.
Who is Eligible for the Vouchers?
The Digital Vouchers will be available to 2000 Irish businesses over the next 12 months. The vouchers are aimed at those small Irish businesses who currently have no (or limited) online trading presence. They can have up to 10 employees with a turnover of less than €2 million. You must have been trading for a minimum of 12 months previous to the application.
What can the Digital Vouchers be used for?
The vouchers can be used to fund Digital Training, Digital Marketing Strategy, the development of upgrade of an E-Commerce site (static brochure type sites will not be accepted), customer fulfillment systems, the implementation of online payments or booking functions, internet related software, the development of an App/mobile responsive websites and, finally, online advertising (this may be part of the voucher implementation).
The Application Process
A core requirement of the application process is that the business must have attended one of the information seminars prior to submitting the application. You can find out where your nearest one is by contacting your local County Enterprise Board officer. The application is a competitive process with all applications being informed of the outcome following the evaluation process. If you are successful a letter with the voucher attached will issue to you. You then undertake, complete and pay for the work prior to claiming.
What should be included in the Application
The usual information together with a clear indication of what undertaking the project will do to advance your business. You need to state what aspects of the business you will focus on in terms of the voucher. It’s imperative you know your market and have under taken an online competitor analysis. The usual financial information will also need to be submitted.
It’s worth noting that feedback from the pilot programme was that not enough detail was included by many participants as to what the voucher was going to be used for. Some participants were only looking for an increased ad-word campaign, whilst others had unrealistic sales and job creation figures. You can read all about businesses who have used the trading online vouchers here.
How do I redeem the Digital Voucher
The vouchers are redeemed on expenditure net of vat. This is limited to 50% of the expenditure with a maximum being 2500 euros. You must supply the original supplier invoice together with the supplier Tax Clearance Certificate. Your supplier must be a registered trading business. You will need to produce proof of payment (most likely your bank statement), the signed voucher and a 1 page report of the work carried out.
It’s important to note here that the Digital Vouchers will issue with an expiry date and must be claimed within this timeframe. All expenditure claimed must be as per the Letter of Voucher approval.
Can we help you?
Yes, we are registered as approved suppliers and have all the necessary paperwork in order. We can help you through the process and application. We can provide you with a Strategy and Roadmap. We can advise you on which channel and technology to use. We provide Training and Mentorship. We will also tell you if we feel that it’s unlikely that you will be accepted for funding. To book an appointment please email us to firstname.lastname@example.org (no spam please). You can download the digital trading application formTrading-Online-Voucher-Application-Form here.