Enterprise Ireland's COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme — a lifeline for Irish business

In the first two rounds of the ORS in 2020, Matrix had 100% success rate in applications — securing over €600,000 for our 18 retail clients so far. If you missed the first two rounds, Enterprise Ireland is getting ready to announce the third phase of funding and we're ready to partner with you — we can reboot your whole digital strategy and boost your online sales. 

Online Retail Scheme

Enterprise Ireland’s COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme has been an unprecedented programme for Irish businesses. In 2020, more than 300 Irish companies shared over €12 million in eCommerce improvement grants — each one funding 80% of a project that will be a lifeline in surviving the pandemic.

Matrix partnered with 18 companies in the first two rounds of applications and each one received funding. We secured over €600,000 for our 18 retail clients, and if you missed the first two rounds, you can partner with us in round 3 and join us in our 100% success story. Get in touch today if you want to reboot your whole digital strategy and boost your online sales. We’re a team who gets results — the figures from 2020 don’t lie.

So does your company have an ambition to sell more online, in domestic and international markets? Where could an innovative digital strategy and a top-class online store take your business?

Sail through all the essential information about the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme — and Click HERE to see our full-size infographic.


Necessity is the mother of all invention 

This is a period of huge change and rapid adjustment, and years of digital transformation have taken place in the space of a few months. If you are a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer who has neglected the online space, or if you have had some success online but want to take it to the next level – now is the time to act. Heed the old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today!”

So, what now?

At Matrix, we are encouraging all Irish retailers to get ready for this third round of funding — scores of Irish companies have got a head start, and are already laying plans for a transformative eCommerce project.  

Competition will be tough, but the good news is that the scheme would be a game-changer for any retail business.

The other good news? Matrix has been on the approved agency panel for Enterprise Ireland for many years and we can help with the whole application process. We worked on applications with 18 Irish companies in the ORS first two rounds, and each of the 18 were successful. You can trust us to give 100% in formulating a proposal that will impress judges and give your company a jolt of inspiration. In a webinar last year Enterprise Ireland revealed that all the successful applicants engaged early with their chosen digital agency to clearly outline their ambitions. So if you tell us your story, we’ll get it across just how you’d like it to be told.

Ignite your eCommerce with Digital Spark from Matrix

In the wake of COVID-19, we developed a holistic eCommerce improvement programme called Digital Spark, that will now be tailored to each State-funded project partner.

Digital Spark is a dynamic initiative that will ignite your whole business model — from research workshops and strategic planning, to implementing powerful new web functionality. Through this programme we will empower Irish companies to take a proactive approach to eCommerce in a time of uncertainty. 

To learn more about how a Digital Spark project can help you transform your eCommerce business model, visit our dedicated Digital Spark page on our website.

Next steps

Any Irish retailer who is interested in the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme should: 

  1. Read all available official information on the programme and become familiar with the objectives to see if they are aligned;
  2. Check eligibility criteria and rules
  3. Review evaluation and scoring
  4. Identify an internal champion or driver
  5. Engage with a digital agency who can understand your business, help with the application form and who can deliver a wide ranging eCommerce plan from start to finish

If you would like Matrix to be your project partner, or if you’d like to to start a conversation about potentially applying for the scheme, please email ecommerce@matrixinternet.ie.

A broad overview of the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme

Here are the broad strokes of how Enterprise Ireland have set up the scheme:

In one line:

  • A grant to fund 80% of a project that would give any Irish retailer a top class eCommerce channel.

What is EI trying to do for Irish retailers?

  • Boost their eCommerce platform and capabilities;
  • Give them a long-term strategy for online growth;
  • Make them more visible to domestic and international audiences;
  • Develop a competitive online offer;


  • The deadline has passed for the first two rounds, but Enterprise Ireland will be announcing the third phase of funding soon;
  • Enterprise Ireland has advised participants to start the application process as soon as possible – as soon as the next round is announced, it’s time to think of your agency partner;


  • An online application system on the Enterprise Ireland website
  • Supporting information (including 2 years’ accounts) and plan are required

Who is it for?

  • Irish-owned retail businesses
  • 10 or more employees
  • Businesses with potential for online sales growth

Who is excluded?

  • Franchisees
  • Agriculture or fisheries businesses
  • Hospitality and leisure sector
  • Gambling and some other areas

What work does it cover?

  • Research and discovery work related to online sales
  • Development of a complete eCommerce strategy
  • Improving the online presence and visibility to domestic and international audiences
  • Enhancing back-end and operational systems and integration work
  • In-house training
  • Salary costs of an internal project champion

What work is not covered?

  • Paid online advertisements
  • Website improvements which would happen anyway
  • Off-the-shelf software or subscriptions

How is it scored?

Applications will be scored by EI as part of a competitive process. Scoring as follows

35% – Quality of proposal and impact on business

35% – Expected Impact on viability of business

20% – International ambition

10% – Financial track record

Further information

Get all the official information on the Enterprise Ireland website. In addition, a full presentation covering the webinar that Enterprise Ireland did on the topic can be found here.

A full list of FAQs provided by Enterprise Ireland can be found here.

In an earlier webinar, Enterprise Ireland offered clarification on some issues through a question and answer session. Here are some of the questions/answers from that session. We will add to this list if new FAQs emerge in the process.

Q. How difficult is it to complete the form?
A. EI said that the form is complex and will need careful planning. They strongly recommend starting the application process and form as early as possible.

Q. How much emphasis is on export?
A. For this scheme, Enterprise Ireland have said it is enough for participants to have “ambition” to export now or in the future. This initiative from Enterprise Ireland has a mission to support and to solidify Irish retailers in a broad sense.

Q. Can previous EI scheme participants apply for this COVID-19 scheme?
A. Yes, if the previous project has been completed in full, then a new application will be allowed.

Q. What about previous ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers who want to convert to an online only format?
A. Enterprise Ireland have said that they will consider this and revert with a clarification. However, one criteria for the scheme is that participants must have 10 employees. EI have expressed an interest in any business that feels they have an USP or a unique offering. Additionally, EI have said that this is open to retailers in both rural and urban areas.

Q. Would the scheme support a click and collect development project?
A. EI have said that they will consider such an application on its merits and to see if it is in the broad spirit of the COVID-19 Retail Scheme.

Q. Could this work for a property business?
A. No, the programme is aimed at the retail sector in Ireland.

Q. Is the 10-employee stipulation a hard rule?
A. EI have said they will consider a combination of part-time and full-time employees.

Q. How many years do the accounts need to cover for the application?
A. 2 years of business accounts need to accompany each application. 

Q. What about business models and industries not mentioned in the material so far?
A. EI would like people to email in any queries about such industries.

Q. How does the internal champion work with the agency?
A. An internal champion is allowed, to a maximum of €200 per day, and this cost must not exceed the cost of the agency work.

Q. Does the provider need to be based in Ireland?
A. No, the agency and provider can be outside of Ireland.

Q. Why doesn’t EI support Google Ads?
A. EI would prefer to invest in internal capabilities and strategic pieces that will endure, unlike paid ads or day-to-day marketing costs that expire immediately. The EU also has a state aid restriction that covers that.

Q. Can internal staff carry out all of the work?
A. No, an internal champion is allowed but this can not exceed the cost of an external agency.

Q. What service provider can be used?
A. Enterprise Ireland has an approved list of agencies, available on the EI website.

Q. What about endeavours that have already commenced?
A. Enterprise Ireland stated that they will not financially support work that has already happened, but if a new part of an existing programme has not commenced, it may be considered as part of this eCommerce-focussed programme.

If you would like to start a conversation about potentially applying for the scheme, please email ecommerce@matrixinternet.ie


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