Aspire Digital

The government has launched it’s support for retailers through the Enterprise Ireland. With this grant, a qualifying retailer can access funds of up to €40,000 to improve online presence and devise marketing strategy. This is a competitive process and there are qualifying conditions. The full details are here and we have summarised this below.

What is the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

• Grant to assist retail companies improve their online presence
• Covers 80% of project costs up to €40,000
• Minimum project spend €12,500

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all Irish business in a significant way. Globally, customers have turned online to make their purchases making your online presence more important than ever. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has developed and launched Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme to assist retail companies in significantly improving their online presence.

According to Enterprise Ireland “The purpose of this fund is to enable Irish-owned retailers to enhance their digital capability and to develop a more competitive online offer, that will enable an increase in their customer base and build a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace both online and offline.”

What Grant assistance is available Under the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

This is a competitive process that will provide successful applicants access to funding of up to a maximum of €40,000 or 80% of eligible costs. The minimum grant amount payable is €10,000. Projects that propose projected expenditure less than €12,500 are not eligible for the scheme.

What are the eligible criteria Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

The applicant must be an Irish-owned retail enterprise that had 10 or more employees on or before 29 February 2020 and has the potential to sustain or create jobs, generate growth in online transactions and with an ambition to internationalise their business in future. An application must be submitted in the name of a company registered with the Companies Registration Office and incorporated in the Republic of Ireland at the time of application

What are the ineligible criteria for the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

Under €12,500 investment: Applications which do not propose company expenditure on the project of a minimum of €12,500 (grant of €10,000) will be considered ineligible (the grant will reimburse up to 80% of eligible expenditure);
Be a Franchise: Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online support;
Lacking significant online enhancement: Projects which do not propose significant additional functionality to the online presence of the applicant company will be considered ineligible;
Already receiving Grant aid: Applicants who were approved any other State or EU funding for the project for which they are seeking funding;
Be involved in Agriculture, fishing: Companies active in the primary production of agricultural products, fishery and aquaculture;
Not available to Hospitality sector: Companies active in the provision of hospitality and leisure services (e.g. hotels, restaurants);
No Bars or niteclubs: Companies active in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages where consumed on the retail premises;
Be a risk to EI reputation: Applications which include or relate to activities that Enterprise Ireland considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk. Ineligible activities include activities relating to: the gambling sector, including ‘gaming’ (as defined in the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956), adult entertainment, tobacco products and cannabis-based products which are not authorised as medicines;
Received a previous grant: Companies which have previously availed of funding for an e-marketing improvement assignment from Enterprise Ireland or which are eligible for this grant from Enterprise Ireland;
Limit reached for funding: Companies which have already reached their De Minimis aid limit.

What costs are allowed/disallowed under the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

Salary: Salary costs of a senior project champion (manager level or above) in the applicant company to work with an external service provider on this project. The costs to support the salary of the project champion must not exceed the external service provider costs. A maximum of 1 internal champion per company is eligible for salary costs;

Agency Fees: Fees of established external service provider(s) to develop a digital strategy;

Developer Fees: Fees of established external service provider(s) to further develop / enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence. The grant must be used to introduce additional functionality; and

External training: Training Course fees are not eligible, however in-house training provided by an external provider to enable a company develop and maintain a robust online retail operation are eligible. This could include training for CMS, e-Marketing, e-commerce systems, SEO, etc.

Ineligible costs include:

Business as usual upgrades: Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual;

Hardware costs: The purchase of hardware or “off the shelf” software package licences or subscriptions e.g. for Customer Relationship Management (CRM);

Online advertising: The funding of online advertising campaigns e.g. pay per click campaigns.

Can I work with an agency and avail of the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

Under the Covid-19 Retail Scheme rules, you can work with an agency to conduct research, build a strategy and implement digital change to enhance your online presence.

What if my business is not eligible for Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

There are other grants available to smaller businesses through the Local Enterprise Offices, see details here

Can I work with Aspire Digital to avail of the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

We can help your business through this process. To work with Aspire Digital, simply email us at with some details about your business. We can discuss a strategy with you, built around your needs.