Covid-19: Online Retail Scheme – Enterprise Ireland

The Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland has some fantastic supports that you can avail of. Therefore, if your business needs to make the step online now is the time.

the scheme covers a massive 80% of the costs of launching an online presence. What’s impressive is that the funding covers strategy development and research. As a result, you can cover key fundamental issues that will help you succeed for years to come.

Essentially, the supports cover strategic marketing and technical implementation.

If you want to discuss the scheme with us, just drop us a line and we will get back to you.

What The Online Retail Scheme Covers

There are three core areas covered by this scheme.

  1. Research
  2. Strategy
  3. Implementation


The research component is quite comprehensive. It covers, marketing, e-commerce development and operations. As a result, each business will have a unique set of requirements.

The research phase is:

“In-depth analysis of the company’s current and potential online presence and capabilities, target audience and brand.” – Enterprise Ireland

How to Get the Most Benefit from the Research Phase

The most important thing you need to keep in mind at this stage is to avoid cookie-cutter research. Therefore, make sure your research partner doesn’t overcharge you for research they already know the answers to. As a result, insist on relevant research that you can’t find by doing a Google search yourself.

Here are the activities that are covered by the research part of the scheme:


  • Optimisation of online marketing channels
  • Consumer experience
  • Catalogue presentation

Web Development

  • Web functionality
  • Payment systems specification


  • Supply chain management
  • Consolidated inventory systems
  • Order fulfilment

Keys to Success in the Research Phase

Firstly, make sure that you have all three areas covered. Seek experts in e-commerce. Agencies or people with experience in each area.

The weighting you give to marketing, development and operations depends on the unique nature of your business. As a result, think about your long terms goals and work back from there.

In conclusion, what you get out is correlated to how much you put in. We are not talking money here, we mean your effort to provide as detailed a spec as possible to your partners.

Strategy Development

Focusing on strategy is essential for online success. As an agency, we always advise clients to work on their strategy before they spend one euro in advertising.

Because of this, you will have a clear understanding of your objectives.

There are two key sections to this part of the scheme.

  1. Marketing
  2. Project Management 

Marketing – Strategy Development

There is a significant amount of marketing strategy covered by the scheme. As a result, there is a clear opportunity to position your business in the global marketplace.

Think big and remember online equals international sales.

Here are the marketing components of the Strategy Development part of the scheme.

  • Identifying how the company’s value proposition should be demonstrated online, what aspects should be emphasised and how best to present this to online customers
  • Ensuring that the company’s online presence is being fully utilised/optimised to fulfil its overall potential, supporting the overall business strategy
  • Consideration of omnichannel offering (including marketplaces and social media)

Project Management – Digital Transformation

The success of your project is totally reliant on your project management. As a result, project roadmap is essential. Fortunately, the scheme allows for the development of a comprehensive roadmap.

Resource and business processes should be included. This will give you a clear step by step plan to building and scaling your online operation.

As Enterprise Ireland outline:

  • Development of a written digital strategy and a roadmap for implementation including resource and business process considerations


To complement the research and strategy phase there is also funding for implementation.

There are two core sections in the implementation phase.

  1. Marketing
  2. Operations

Marketing – Implementation

So for starters, you can’t use the funding for advertising. The good news is that you can use it for SEO. However, there is a grey area as off-site SEO involves an element of “advertising.”

Therefore, for the purpose of presenting an eligible project, you should focus your plan on technical SEO and localisation. This should also include content copywriting and video assets.

Specifically, Enterprise Ireland say:

  • Optimising the company’s online presence to ensure domestic and international visibility (e.g. web enhancement and localisation, associated business process enhancements, search engine optimisation etc.)

Operations – Implementation

The involves the implement station of your project plan as long as it complies with there following:

  • Enhancing related “back end” systems (e.g. product presentation, supply chain management, systems integration to improve consumer experience etc.)

Remember, that there are “offline” parts to online businesses. This section of the scheme will help you get your ducks in a row to fulfil orders and work better with suppliers.

Implementation – Tips for Success

In conclusion, ensure that you have the right balance between marketing and operations. Keep in mind that both need to be covered. As a result, don’t neglect one just because an advisor is pressing their own agenda.

All in all, make sure your project budget has enough fuel in the tank for the implementation phase.

Eligible Costs – Online Retail Scheme

Here are the eligible costs of the COVID 19 – Online Retail Scheme:

1. Project Champion

Now, many external providers will put forward that you should invest everything on external consultancy. However, we have vast experience in both marketing and developing global B2C online projects. In our experience, it is absolutely essential that you have a capable project champion co-ordinating the project.

We don’t mean an intern or recent graduate. A top-level manager is very minimum. Look, this will actually save external costs as an experienced manager can reduce the necessary billable hours required from your partners.

In other words, authority equals efficiency. Make sure a decision-maker is directly involved. What’s more, their salary can be funded as part of the scheme.

2. Fees to Develop a Digital Strategy

The fees an external digital agency will charge to develop a digital strategy as outlined above.

3. Fees to an External Provider to Add Features and Functions

As Enterprise Ireland has outlined to “develop / enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence.” In summary, upgrade your site by adding the latest best practice functions.

4. Training

This only applies to bespoke internal training covering CMS, eMarketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems, SEO, etc.

You should take advantage of this. Upskilling your employees can deliver revenue gains to your company. As a result, it is a good idea to put the training component front and centre when discussing your project with external partners.

Remember, it’s your project so knowledge transfer to your staff is a priority.

What Expenses are Not Covered

1. Advertising Expenses (Direct)

We always say do not spend a penny on ads until you have your marketing strategy and advertising creative sorted. By disallowing direct advertising spend, Enterprise Ireland is doing the same.

Therefore, do include any advertising costs in your budget application. In other words, no PPC or social ads.

2. Upgrades that “Would Have Happened Anyway”

Upgrades that would have occurred anyway in the typical course of business are not eligible. Therefore, do not include them in your plan.

3. Purchases of Hardware or “Off the Shelf” Software

The purchase of hardware is excluded. So is off the shelf software. In summary, you are going to have to spend the grant on bespoke solutions that will improve your online capabilities.

Application Evaluation Criteria – Online Retail Scheme

Evaluation Criteria Weighting
Quality of the proposal and the potential impact on the business demonstrated in the proposal 40%
Impact of proposed changes on the competitive position and viability of the company 40%
Ambition to internationalise the business 10%
The company’s financial track record 10%
TOTAL: 100%


The scheme is a huge opportunity. Even though the trading climate is difficult for a lot of businesses this a great opportunity to get on the front foot. Leading on, 80% of your costs are covered. As a result, this dramatically improves the short term ROI of your project.

All in all, if you are targeting international markets you should apply. Therefore, if your revenues are falling offline here in Ireland you can more than supplement them by focusing on your value proposition and binging it globally.

Following on, we believe that the COVID-19 crisis has brought forward the need for businesses like yours to start your digital transformation. In other words, think of it as being 2025. Where does your business need to be?

Because of this, many companies are now actioning projects that they have been putting on the long finger. Take advantage of substantial financial assistance to grow your business.

Online Retail Scheme Enterprise Ireland FAQs

What does the Online Retail Scheme cover?

The Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland covers 1) Research 2) Strategy development and 3) Implementation.

What is the minimum project cost to apply for the Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland?

The minimum project cost that will be considered is €12,500. The minimum grant payout is €10,000 for eligible projects.

What is the maximum grant available under the Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland?

The maximum grant available is €40,000. This means that the maximum project cost is €50,000 with EI reimbursing €40,000.

How do I apply for the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland?

You can apply using Enterprise Ireland’s Online application system between April 29th and May 27th at 3 pm.

What is the deadline for the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme from Enterprise Ireland?

The deadline is 3 pm, May 27th, 2020. You need to have completed applications fully submitted on the Enterprise Ireland online application system.