COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has proposed this Scheme in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability.

This is a Competitive Fund which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of DBEI with a total fund size of €2m.

Applications for funding will be invited through a public Call for submission of projects. This Call open and close dates to be confirmed.

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.

Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project eligible costs with a maximum grant of €40,000.

Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include research, consultancy costs for strategy development, implementation and training.

Who can apply?

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. The business must also:

  • have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media);
  • have a retail outlet and derive the majority of revenue from the retail outlet(s);
  • Must employ at least 10 employees in the Republic of Ireland (on a full-time equivalent basis on or before 29 February 2020);
  • Previous applicants of the Online Retail Scheme who were unsuccessful will be eligible to re-apply with a modified proposal under this Call. Successful applicants in previous calls are eligible to re-apply under this call, once they have fully completed the project funded, fully claimed all eligible costs and propose a clearly different project to that undertaken under previous calls.

The Scheme is NOT open to the following:

  1. 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);
  2. Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online support;
  3. Projects which do not propose significant additional functionality to the online presence of the applicant company will be considered ineligible;
  4. Applicants who were approved any other State or EU funding for the project for which they are seeking funding;
  5. Companies active in the primary production of agricultural products, fishery and aquaculture;
  6. Companies active in the provision of hospitality and leisure services (e.g. hotels, restaurants);
  7. Companies active in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages where consumed on the retail premises;
  8. 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 cannibas-based products which are not authorised as medicines;
  9. 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;
  10. Companies which have already reached their De Minimis aid limit. 

Eligible Activities

Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include:


  • In-depth analysis of the company’s current and potential online presence and capabilities, target audience and brand. This research should help the applicant make informed decisions about e.g. optimisation of online marketing channels, web functionality, payment systems specification, catalogue presentation, supply chain management, consolidated inventory systems, order fulfilment and consumer experience.

Strategy development:

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


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


Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project costs.

The minimum grant amount payable is €10,000 under this Scheme.

Therefore, applications which do not propose company expenditure on the project of a minimum of €12,500 will be considered ineligible (the grant will reimburse up to 80% of eligible expenditure as set out below);

All eligible costs are required to be directly related to the implementation of the work programme.

Eligible costs include:

  • 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;
  • Fees of established external service provider(s) to develop a digital strategy;
  • 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
  • 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, eMarketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems, SEO, etc.

Ineligible costs include:

  • Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual;
  • The purchase of hardware or “off the shelf” software package licences or subscriptions e.g. for Customer Relationship Management (CRM); and
  • The funding of online advertising campaigns e.g. pay per click campaigns.

Any expenditure incurred prior to the close of the Call at (date TBC) is not eligible for support.

Eligible Expenditures and Limits

Expenditure claimed must be incurred by the legal entity to which the grant is offered

Consultancy Fees:

  • The daily rate is to be inclusive of service provider’s time and all associated travel, subsistence and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Consultancy rate is a maximum of €900 per day. Where 2 or more service providers are engaged from the same firm, the daily rate of €900 per day is applied to the firm.

How do I apply?

Application must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System during the Call open dates.

The Application System will be launched via the Enterprise Ireland website shortly.

  • Call open date: To be confirmed
  • Call close date: To be confirmed

How is my application evaluated?

Enterprise Ireland will carry out an evaluation of all eligible applications using the following criteria:

Evaluation Criteria

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%

For information, download Scoring Criteria for Online Retail Scheme (Word format)

All applicants will be notified by Enterprise Ireland by email of the result of this assessment following evaluation of the Call.

When is the call closing date?

The call closing date is yet to be confirmed.

More information

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