Dublin, Friday 14th August 2015
Over 70% of small businesses that have participated in the Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme expect to recruit more staff, according to a survey published by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. On average, the small firms that expect to take on extra workers predict a jobs-dividend of almost 15%.
The report, Growing Small Businesses Through Online Trade, also shows that small firms which start to trade online, or develop their existing online presence, experience an 85% boost in customer inquiries and a 21% average increase in sales.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme was launched by the Government in 2014 to boost the number of small firms that exploit the growing digital economy. It offers small businesses a grant of up to €2,500 – subject to matching funding – as well as training, mentoring and networking support to help them develop their online trading capability.
Minister for Communications Alex White said "The Government's support for online trading is making a tangible impact on jobs and economic activity in Ireland. This survey shows that seven out of ten firms supported by the scheme expect to take on new staff, with the potential creation of an average 1.4 new jobs per company. This represents an increase of almost 15% on average as all the businesses surveyed employ fewer than ten staff," he said.
Some 225 companies that received Online Trading Vouchers responded to the survey, which found that:
- 85% saw an increase in customer inquiries
- The companies surveys reported an average 21 increase in sales
- 71% expected to recruit new staff to cope with new business
- An average of 1.4 jobs per company were expected to be created (in companies that employ fewer than ten people)
- 40% of businesses had generated customer interest from new markets overseas
- 60% said that the new business was additional and did not displace existing sales
- 99% expected their online business to grow in importance
- 80% said the competitive application process helped them in business strategy planning.
Irish consumers now spend almost €700,000 online each hour. Minister White said: "We want more Irish SMEs to win that business and the Trading Online Voucher Scheme offers a real opportunity for Irish retailers to increase sales and exports by marketing their goods and services more effectively. The average sales increase of 21% is almost five times the rate of growth in the rest of the economy. This shows that small business with limited resources can expect an excellent return if they invest in online trading. No wonder businesses that make the leap into online trading believe their internet business will become more and more important to them."
The scheme was developed as a partnership between the Department of Communications and the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. It is administered by Local Enterprise Offices.
Notes to Editors
Read the survey here:Growing Small Businesses Through Online Trade.
The digital economy is predicted to grow to some €21 billion by 2020. It is estimated that Irish consumers spend €700,000 online every hour of the day, 365 days a year. Up to 70% of this spend goes abroad, and fewer than one in four small Irish businesses currently have an online capacity. They are also unable to compete in the international market where it is estimated that over 3 billion people buy online.
The digital economy represents 5% of Ireland's GDP, a figure that is growing by around 20% a year. This is significantly higher than the overall economic growth rate.
The Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme was introduced and piloted under the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs. It was rolled out nationally under the 2014 Action Plan. The scheme is a key action under the business strand of the National Digital Strategy, which was published in July 2013.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme aims to get 2,000 more small Irish traditional businesses trading online by the end of 2015.
The scheme offers grants of up to €2,500 (subject to matching funding), as well as training, mentoring and networking support to small businesses to help them develop their online trading capability. The scheme is attracting applications from across a wide range of sectors including retail, manufacturing, food, and professional services.
The scheme is making a positive impact and is an example of an effective partnership between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office Network. The 31 Local Enterprise Offices distribute the vouchers, as well as provide training, mentoring and networking support for the businesses in question.
Further information is available at www.localenterprise.ie.