What is trading online voucher scheme?
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme (LEO Trading Online Voucher Scheme) is a government initiative designed to assist small businesses in Ireland with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales, and reach new markets. The scheme offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 with a co-funding of 50% from the business along with training and advice to help businesses trade online.
The goal of the scheme is to make the process of trading online much easier and more affordable for small businesses by cutting the cost of developing their online trading capacity by up to 50%.
How to apply step by step:
- Determine if your business is eligible: Check if your business meets the eligibility criteria for the scheme. Your business must have limited or no e-commerce presence, employ 10 or fewer people, have a turnover of less than €2 million, and be trading for at least six months. You must also be located within the jurisdiction of your Local Enterprise Office (LEO).
- Contact your Local Enterprise Office (LEO): Get in touch with your nearest LEO to express your interest in the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. You can find the LEO that covers your area by visiting their website or contacting the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
- Attend a training session: As part of the application process, you must attend a mandatory training session provided by your LEO. The training covers a range of topics related to trading online, including website development, digital marketing, social media for business, and search engine optimization. You will learn how to develop a digital strategy for your business, which will form the basis of your application.
- Develop a digital strategy: Work with your LEO to develop a digital strategy for your business that outlines how you plan to use the voucher to improve your online presence and grow your business. This strategy should detail the specific improvements you plan to make, such as developing a new website or adding e-commerce functionality to your existing site.
- Apply for the voucher: Once you have attended the training session and developed a digital strategy, you can apply for the voucher. Your LEO will provide you with an application form, which you must complete and submit along with the required supporting documentation. This documentation will include proof of trading for at least six months and evidence of how the voucher will be used to improve your online presence.
- Wait for approval: Your application will be reviewed by your LEO, and you will be notified of the outcome within a few weeks. If your application is successful, you will receive a voucher worth up to €2,500.
- Provide co-funding: The voucher covers up to 50% of the total cost of your digital project, and you must provide the remaining 50% as co-funding. This co-funding can be provided in cash or as an in-kind contribution, such as the value of your time spent working on the project.
- Begin your digital project: Once you have received the voucher and provided co-funding, you can begin your digital project. This may involve developing a new website, adding e-commerce functionality to your existing site, or subscribing to a low-cost online retail platform. Your LEO will provide guidance and support throughout the project.
- Submit your final claim: Once your project is complete, you must submit a final claim to your LEO. This claim should include all receipts and invoices related to the project, as well as evidence that the project has been completed in accordance with your digital strategy.
- Apply for a second voucher (optional): If you have already received a Trading Online Voucher, you can apply for a second voucher to fund upgrades to your online presence. However, you cannot apply for a second voucher until you have submitted your final claim for your first voucher. The second voucher can be used to fund improvements such as adding new payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers.
What the trading online voucher can be used for?
- Various IT consultation services to help plan and implement online trading activities
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website to improve online trading
- Development or upgrade of an existing website to enable online sales by Implementation of online payments or booking systems to streamline customer transactions
- Purchase of internet-related software to facilitate business operations
- Purchase of online advertising (limited to 30% of the approved voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase) to drive online traffic and increase brand awareness
- Development of an app or multiplatform webpages to expand online offerings
- Development of a digital marketing strategy such as SEO or social media marketing to effectively promote online products or services
- Implementation of a digital marketing strategy to increase online visibility and attract customers
- Training and skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity, including website development, social media management, and search engine optimization
What the trading online voucher cannot be used for?
- Development of brochure websites (i.e., websites that provide general information about a company or organization rather than facilitating online sales)
- Purchase of non-internet-related software (i.e., software that is not directly related to online business operations)
- Any activity not related to online trading, such as the purchase of physical goods or services that are not used for online business purposes.
The above article was based on the Local Enterprise Office information page in order to better understand the idea behind the Trading Online Voucher Scheme with the best intentions for those interested in the Scheme. For more information, scheme updates and applications check https://www.localenterprise.ie/DLR/Financial-Supports/Trading-Online-Vouchers.