Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has urged the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment to learn the lessons from the pandemic and recognise the important need for increased training and financial supports for businesses to aid their e-commerce growth into the future.

Deputy Moynihan commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us all just how important it is for all businesses to have an effective e-commerce capability. It is imperative now that the lessons of the pandemic are learned and businesses are supported and are able to develop any e-commerce needs they may have – both now and in the future – with increased assistance from the Department.”

Agreeing with Deputy Moynihan’s assertion, the Minister responded: “The agencies under the remit of my Department have developed digitalisation programmes to assist businesses to not only commence trading online but also encourage those already trading online to further develop their e-commerce capability.

“My Department recognises the importance of developing the e-commerce capability and digitalisation of our indigenous enterprises and this need was brought into sharp focus during the restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan added: “It is good to hear that the Minister recognises the importance of reviewing on-line supports for businesses going forward. I have also been informed by the Minister that his Department, in conjunction with colleagues in the Local Enterprise Office Centre of Excellence in Shannon, have commenced a process of evaluation of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. 

“The aim of this evaluation is to determine, among other things, the impact of the scheme pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, how it might look in the future and what level of funding is required to deliver the scheme going forward. This process is ongoing, and will help inform any future policy considerations arising therefrom.”

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme, administered by the Local Enterprise Offices offers a voucher of up to €2,500 (50% co- funded by the applicant) to help businesses develop their online trading capability and includes training sessions that cover various topics, including developing a website, digital marketing, social media for business and search engine optimisation.

Elsewhere, the Online Retail Scheme was used in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the continuing urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. 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.