23 Aug Jonathan Cartu Claims: You don’t need to be Amazon to boost sales and win customer…
The effects of Covid-19 on how we trade and how we conduct business have been tectonic. No corner of routine business life has been left untouched either directly or indirectly by the virus.
hile the downsides are still playing out, there have been some notable winners. Amazon, the giant online retailer, has seen its value soar during the pandemic to become the world’s most valuable brand.
More than any other company, Amazon has found itself in the right place at the right time with its range of goods and services firmly planted online.
It is an online success story that should help inspire Irish startups and SMEs too.
At Enterprise Ireland, we believe that being online is more than just a ‘fire-and-forget’ brochure website; it means trading online. It’s not just creating word-of-mouth brand recognition on social media, but the conversion of that interest into sales and bookings directly through your online shopping portal. It’s an exciting road – developing new strategies, winning new customers and entering new markets. Just like all journeys, there are risks to be aware of, such as those around cybersecurity and GDPR.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS), a grant scheme to enable online trading for SMEs with up to 10 employees, has seen an incredible eightfold increase in applications in 2020 and is showing no signs of slowing down.
TOVS, which grants 90pc funding towards a maximum €2,500 e-commerce project, usually sees around 1,000 applications per year since its inception in 2014.
Funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices, it has seen some 8,500 applications just to June this year alone. We have already approved 6,000 of them, demonstrating our commitment to retooling and enabling small Irish enterprise to get a meaningful foothold in online trade.
We’ve broadened the qualifying criteria, reduced a company’s matched funding from 50pc to just 10pc, and now a firm can avail of two vouchers, rather than one, to support its digital transformation.
For instance, before the pandemic hit, Dublin City-based Bean Delivered, a coffee subscription service, used a Trading Online Voucher to upgrade its webstore, create better blog content, run a new digital campaign and make SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) improvements. It also facilitated them to devise a B2B (Business to Business) plan to support business, as well as the needs of employees working from home.
“Bean Delivered has been coping surprisingly well during the crisis as with more people now working remotely and spending more time at home, coffee consumption has risen dramatically,” says founder James Coffey.