Covid-19 – Time is running out to apply for the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme

Covid-19 – Time is running out to apply for the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme

This note is part of a series that the lawyers of Reddy Charlton will issue on the major legal, personal and business issues that will confront us all during the COVID-19 crisis.

The deadline to apply for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) online retail scheme closes next Wednesday. This fund is proposed to help Irish-owned retailers adapt to the new changes in relation to their online capability and workload. Typical elements involved in developing a successful and refined online presence include research, consultancy costs for strategy development, implementation and training.

The total fund size of €2m will be administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of DBEI. If an application is deemed successful then funding will be awarded to support a maximum of 80% of the project eligible costs with a maximum grant of €40,000.

In order to apply for this scheme, applications should be made via a public Call which opened on Wednesday 29 April 2020. The closing date for the Call applications is 3pm on Wednesday 27 May 2020.  Applications must be made via the following link during these dates:

Who can apply for the scheme?

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.

Applicants must ensure they satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible:-

• Irish-owned retail enterprises;
• 10 or more employees employed on/before 29 February 2020;
• The business must have an existing online platform (website or social media).

The Scheme allows for previous applicants who were unsuccessful to re-apply with a modified proposal under this call. Successful applicants in previous calls are also eligible to re-apply under this call as long as they propose a clearly different project to that undertaken under previous calls.

The Scheme is NOT open to the following:-

• 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);
• Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online support;
• Proposed projects which do not create significate additional functionality to the online presence of the applicant will not be considered;
• Applicants who were approved any other State of EU funding for the project for which they are seeking funding;
• Companies active in the primary production of agricultural products, fishery and aquaculture;
• Companies active in the provision of hospitality and leisure services (hotels and restaurants);
• Companies active in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages where consumed on the retail premises;
• Applications which are deemed to involve an unacceptable reputational risk such as activities relating to gambling, ‘gaming’, adult entertainment, tobacco products and cannibas-based products which are not authorised as medicines;
• Companies who have previously availed of funding for an e-marketing improvement assignment from Enterprise Ireland or which are eligible for this grant from Enterprise Ireland;
• Companies which have already reached their De Minimis aid limit.

What are the eligible activities?

1. Research which will involve an in-depth analysis of the company’s current and potential online presence and capabilities, target audience and brand. This will enable the applicant to make fully informed decisions on how the customer will experience the online platform.

2. Strategy development which will involve a thoroughly drafted plan by the applicant detailing each business consideration, how the company proposes to be viewed online and ensuring the best way to present this.

3. Implementation which will consider how to best optimise the company’s online presence to ensure both domestic and international visibility. Some examples of this would be web enhancement and search engine optimisation etc.

4. Costs which will amount to a maximum funding of 80% of the project costs to successful applicants.  The minimum grant amount payable is €10,000 under the Scheme.  Applications which do not propose company expenditure on the project of a minimum of €12,500 will be considered ineligible.  All eligible costs are required to be directly related to the implementation of the work programme.  Any expenditure incurred by the applicant prior to the close of the Call at 27 May 2020 is not eligible for support.

What do 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;
• 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; and
• In-house training provided by an external provider to enable a company develop and maintain a robust online retail operation such as CMS training.

What do 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 of subscriptions; and
• The funding of online advertising campaigns.

What are the Eligible Expenditures and Limits?

The expenditure claimed under the Scheme must be incurred by the legal entity to which the grant is offered.

Salaries and Overheads

• The maximum eligible salary per applicant/employee of the applicant is €1,000 per week (€200 per day) for a maximum of 25 weeks (125 days).
• The time spent on the proposed project by the applicant/employees is the only time that will be eligible under the Scheme.
• Claims for wages and salary support for the applicant/employees must be supported by payslips.

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 will the application be evaluated?

An evaluation will be conducted by Enterprise Ireland of all eligible applications using the following criteria:-

• Quality of the proposal and the potential impact on the business demonstrated (40%);
• Impact of proposed changes on the competitive position and viability of the company (40%);
• Ambition to internationalise the business (10%); and
• The company’s financial record (10%).

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

How can Reddy Charlton help?

During this Covid 19 crisis, Reddy Charlton Solicitors are eager to support, encourage and guide your business. If you have any queries or seek further information on the Online Retail Scheme or any other area of commercial law, please contact Elaine McGrath at

Elaine McGrath
Author: Elaine McGrath