Enterprise Ireland is about to announce the third round of the COVID-19 Retail Scheme — a year since the pandemic turned the global economy upside down and forced us to rethink how we do business.
The Online Retail Scheme is a State-funded project that has granted over €12 million between 320+ companies in the first two rounds last year. Each of these companies got up to €40,000 for a new eCommerce project that will transform their business model and give them a chance of surviving these unprecedented challenges.
If you’ve missed out so far, it could be third time lucky — you’ve just been given another chance with this upcoming announcement. The Government has millions more to share between Irish companies with 10 or more staff, who impress the Enterprise Ireland judges with innovative business plans and export strategies.
The bad news? Well, no one likes filling out forms, and this one is complex. But the good news cancels out the bad right away — imagine €40,000 for a project that could save your business and give it a new digital future.
You’ll have a few weeks to put together a winning application. Don’t be looking back this time next year on a squandered opportunity — and follow these five tips for writing a proposal that turns heads.
You might know your company inside out and have a head full of ideas, but you still need to take your time with this application. Be disciplined and set aside a few weeks to concentrate on getting your business plan, figures, strategy and story across. Treat it like a project with milestones, and give yourself plenty of time to proofread and make amendments. You’ll be fine if you don’t panic — no amount of Red Bull or double espressos will get this over the line if you leave it to the last minute.
The first few sections of the application give you a chance to introduce your business, so don’t be shy. The judges mightn’t know your company, so tell them exactly what you do — and what sets you apart. Lay down your USPs and think about how you’ll make your products stand out in domestic and export markets. Start thinking about your company’s milestones and achievements. Tell judges the story of your business — they’ll want to read on.
How long would it usually take to set aside €40,000? Well, imagine finding out in a few weeks that you’ve got it as a grant instead. Maybe you’ve had big ideas in the past but thought, ‘if only…’
Now you can start thinking about how far this funding could take the business, and go through that bucket list. Judges will be won over by ambition, especially if you back it up with a realistic business plan and a sound knowledge of your competitors.
Your project champion and management team will be driving the application process (and the project if you’re successful), but make sure eCommerce excellence becomes part of the company culture, at all levels.
If everyone buys into the idea of a digital future at this stage everyone’s goals will be aligned, and people in all departments will be inspired to pitch ideas, from application to project rollout.
All of the above are high-level, holistic strategies that’ll give you a solid foundation for a winning proposal. Now you need to tie it all together and think about the details. Judges like to see applicants build an eCommerce strategy around three pillars:
Even if you’ve got all the above in order, an agency could give you those crucial extra percentage points. In the first two ORS rounds, Matrix Internet partnered with 20 companies, and each application was successful. That’s €750,000 we secured for our clients. As an external, objective voice, we can see an even bigger picture, and tease out USPs and hidden strengths you might miss. Plus, we’ve been on the Enterprise Ireland approved agency panel for years, and we’ve been paving digital pathways for our clients for over 20 years. If you team up with us, we’ll work with you on the application for free, as long as you choose us as your project partner if you’re successful. And judging by our 100% success rate so far, that’s very likely.
One of our successful application partners, the 1933 Furniture Company, had this to say about the process: “Matrix Internet reached out to us to apply for the Enterprise Ireland Online Retail Scheme. After some introductory calls, we felt that the relationship was a good fit. Brian Cochrane led the application and did an excellent job in helping us deliver an impressive proposal. The Matrix team have been very supportive and professional every step of the way and we’re looking forward to completing the project with them.”
Give us a call today if you also want to get an edge over your competitors.
Want us to be your Online Retail Scheme partner? Let us know today!
By Conor McCaffrey
By Rakky Curvelo
By Maria Prendeville