The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources explains why trading online is important and outlines how its €2,500 grant (Trading Online Voucher Scheme) can help small businesses.

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is a Government initiative to assist small businesses to trade online. It is targeted at micro businesses with 10 or fewer employees and less than €2m in annual turnover. It provides a flexible incentive for small business owners/managers to address the barriers for their business to trading online.

Operated through the national network of 31 LEOs, the scheme offers a financial incentive of up to €2,500 to develop their trading online capacity along with training, mentoring and networking support

Irish consumers spend over €7bn annually online or around €850,000 per hour, 24 hours a day. With up to 70% of Ireland’s annual online spend currently going overseas, targeting Irish businesses for online trading is a key jobs and economic imperative.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources recognises the importance of enabling all citizens and businesses to realise the full social and economic potential of the digital world. Ireland’s digital economy is driving sweeping change in business, education, public services and utilities, home life and recreation.

A key element of the National Digital Strategy is focused on helping enterprises to move online. It recognises the significant potential for growth that comes from online trade, from finding new customers in new markets, to engaging and retaining current customers and adapting to their needs.

The Department’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme is specifically designed to help small and micro businesses to access the benefits of internet-based commerce. European Commission research suggests that companies which develop a meaningful online trading presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people.

The revolution in business brought about by digital technology and content has grown over the past decade to the extent that it is now being widely referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

Customers and suppliers are increasingly driven by digital technology, from research and buying, to product innovation and the logistics and fulfilment value chain.

All Irish businesses are affected by the changes occurring in consumption patterns. How customers find your business and how they evaluate what you have to offer has changed dramatically.

The customer journey is impacted by two things: the always-in-your-pocket-or-bag digital device and the array of digital connections from social media, forums discussions etc. These devices, and the people they connect, determine more and more the amount of business you do.

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