In today’s digital age, establishing an online presence is no longer just a luxury for businesses; it’s a necessity. The shift towards e-commerce has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of having a strong online platform for businesses to thrive. In Ireland, the Trading Online Voucher (TOV) scheme has emerged as a lifeline for small businesses looking to make their mark in the digital landscape.

Before Covid 19 you could only apply for the TOV once. However, now all business owners can apply for this grant support twice under each registered business.


The Trading Online Voucher: Empowering Small Businesses


The Trading Online Voucher scheme, initiated by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) across Ireland, aims to support small businesses in establishing their online presence. It provides eligible businesses with financial assistance up to a max of €2,500 (with co-funding of 50%) to develop their e-commerce capabilities. Whether it’s building a website, implementing e-commerce functionality, or enhancing digital marketing strategies, the TOV serves as a valuable resource for small businesses looking to thrive in the digital sphere.


What Can You Use the TOV For?


  • Website Development: One of the primary uses of the TOV is to develop a professional website tailored to the business’s needs. A well-designed website serves as a virtual storefront, enabling businesses to showcase their products or services effectively.


  • E-commerce Integration: With the growing preference for online shopping, integrating e-commerce functionality into the website is crucial. The website must be e-commerce enabling you to trade online. Service-based business can install a link to pay invoices through online payment systems like Stripe. Product Businesses can implement a booking system like Calendly.


  • Digital Marketing Strategies: So, How do you drive traffic to the site once it’s complete? The TOV can be used to implement digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, and email marketing. These strategies enhance the online visibility of the business and drive traffic to the site.


  • Training and Support: In addition to financial assistance, the TOV scheme provides businesses with training and support to navigate the digital landscape effectively. From workshops on website development to guidance on digital marketing best practices, businesses receive valuable resources to succeed online. When applying for this grant it is important to consider who will be managing the website etc.


  • Digital Advertising: 30% of the grant can be spent on digital advertising. This can relate to SEO, copywriting, videography, and photography. It is important to know that it must be 30% of what you spend on website development.


How to Apply for the TOV


  • Eligibility Check: Businesses must first check their eligibility for the TOV scheme through their Local Enterprise Office. Generally, small businesses with limited or no online trading presence are eligible for the voucher. You must be 6 months in business, have less than 10 staff, provide proof of trading, and make less than 2 million turnover p/a. It is also required that you attend a seminar, it can be anywhere nationwide, but you must apply for the grant in your local office.


  • Application Process: Once eligibility is confirmed, businesses can proceed with the application process. This involves submitting a detailed business plan, outlining how the TOV will be used to enhance the online presence and drive growth. Applications need to have 3 quotes from 3 separate website development companies to upload the form. You don’t need to go with the cheapest option.


  • Approval and Implementation: Upon approval, businesses can start implementing their proposed digital projects with the assistance of approved service providers. The co-funding requirement of 50% has to be met by the business. Once you receive the letter of approval you have 6 months from that date to complete the website.


  • Claiming the Voucher: After completing the approved projects and meeting all requirements, businesses can claim the voucher by submitting relevant documentation to their Local Enterprise Office for verification. A refund is then processed directly to the applicant’s bank account.


The Importance of Having a Website for Small Businesses


In today’s competitive market, having a website is no longer optional for small businesses; it’s a fundamental requirement. Here’s why:


  • 24/7 Accessibility: A website provides businesses with a digital storefront that is accessible to customers 24/7, allowing for seamless interaction and transactions at any time of the day.


  • Global Reach: Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, a website enables businesses to reach a global audience, expanding their market reach beyond geographical boundaries.


  • Credibility and Trust: A professionally designed website ensures credibility and trust in the minds of potential customers. It serves as a reflection of the business’s brand identity and values, influencing purchasing decisions.


  • Marketing and Branding: A website serves as a powerful marketing tool, allowing businesses to showcase their products or services, share testimonials, and communicate their unique selling propositions effectively.


In conclusion, the Trading Online Voucher scheme plays a vital role for small businesses in Ireland. By empowering them to establish a strong online presence and thrive in the digital economy. When businesses utilise this initiative and recognise the importance of having a website, they can position themselves for success.

Overall, the Trading Online Voucher is a fantastic grant support for small business owners in Ireland.