DE­SPITE the ever in­creas­ing trend to­wards on­line spend­ing, it is es­ti­mated that ap­prox­i­mately a quar­ter of small Ir­ish busi­nesses are en­gaged in any mean­ing­ful way in e-com­merce sales.

For busi­nesses em­ploy­ing less than 10 peo­ple this could be even lower and it is now es­ti­mated that up to 70 per cent of on­line pur­chases made in Ire­land are through overseas mar­kets.

In an at­tempt to re­dress this bal­ance, The Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, En­ergy & Nat­u­ral Re­sources has in­tro­duced a Trad­ing On­line Voucher Scheme, team­ing up with Lo­cal En­ter­prise Of­fices (LEO’s) to de­liver the ini­tia­tive.

Un­der the scheme, each LEO can dis­trib­ute grants of up to €2,500 in ad­di­tion to training and ad­vice to mi­cro-en­ter­prises to help de­velop their web­site or dig­i­tal strat­egy.

To qual­ify for the scheme busi­nesses must have no more than 10 em­ploy­ees, have a turnover be­low €2 mil­lion per an­num and be trad­ing for at least 12-months.

Thus far, more than 2,000 busi­nesses have availed of the ini­tia­tive, with those par­tic­i­pat­ing re­port­ing av­er­age sales in­creases of 20% per cent, with an 80 per cent jump in sales leads and three out of five ex­port­ing for the first time.

The Cork North and West LEO has an­nounced it will host a free sem­i­nar at the E Cen­tre in Fer­moy next Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 15, which will out­line the Trad­ing On­line Voucher ap­pli­ca­tion process.

“For many busi­nesses, the ques­tion is not whether to trade on­line, it’s how to start,” said the Mal­low-based LEO busi­ness ad­vi­sor Joan Kelle­her.

The sem­i­nar, which will be de­liv­ered by Alan O’Meara of Al­me­dia De­sign and Training, will cover a wide range of top­ics in­clud­ing tar­get­ing de­mo­graph­ics, so­cial me­dia, in­creas­ing re­turn on in­vest­ment and pay per click ad­ver­tis­ing.

“It is a re­quire­ment that busi­nesses must at­tend the sem­i­nar prior to sub­mit­ting an ap­pli­ca­tion for a voucher. Ap­pli­cants will be in­formed of the pur­pose of the scheme and how best to use and get value from the voucher to sup­port their on­line trad­ing propo­si­tion,” said Ms Kelle­her.

To book a place on the sem­i­nar, which is only open to busi­nesses trad­ing within the LEO North and West Cork trad­ing area, check www. lo­ca­len­ter­prise.ie/cor­knorthandwest.

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