Secure your future with the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme

Enterprise Ireland's COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme is an eCommerce programme that saved hundreds of Irish businesses last year. In the first two rounds of funding, Matrix had a 100% success rate in applications — securing over €750,000 for our clients. We're now ready to partner with you in Round 3.

Grab this lifeline for Irish business

The global pandemic has finally proved that without a strong online presence, your retail businesses can’t survive — but you may need to rethink your whole business model. We can be your lifeline by helping you apply for State funding through the COVID-19 Retail Scheme. Hundreds of Irish retail companies have already shared over €12 million in the first two rounds of funding, and we had a 100% success rate with our own application partners. It’s time to team up with Matrix to secure up to €40,000 for a life-changing project.

Rethink your whole strategy

We’re not in the business of plugging a few gaps and moving on. With each of our 20 ORS clients so far, we’re helping them develop a whole new eCommerce strategy, and our revolutionary proposals won over the judges every time. We did this through our innovative digital enhancement programme Digital Spark — which calls on all our power as a full-service agency. Our three departments — Web Design, Web Development and Digital Marketing — will work with you on a proposal that will impress the judges, then develop a digital programme to secure the future of your business. From remote collaboration to face-to-face teamwork when the time is right, Digital Spark is a roadmap for innovation.

Adapting to challenges — we’ve moved workshops online, but we’re still very much in the room with our clients

Who can apply?

If you’re an Irish retailer with 10+ staff and an existing online presence, you’ve cleared the first hurdle to securing a grant to fund 80% of a world-class eCommerce channel. The next step is to find out all about the scheme. You can read up on the official Enterprise Ireland website (and we’ve summarised the main points below) but if you give us a call we can go through all the following points, and explain exactly how we can help you with a winning application.

Ignite your eCommerce with Digital Spark

Besides our success in the Online Retail Scheme in 2020, we’ve worked on thousands of projects, and we’ve condensed all of our expertise into the Digital Spark programme. We can tailor the programme to your needs, and boost your domestic and export sales — from research workshops and strategic planning, to implementing powerful new web functionality. Through this programme we have been empowering Irish companies to take a proactive approach to eCommerce in a time of uncertainty.

So, what next?

Do you want a future of selling more online, in domestic and international markets? Act now if you missed the first two rounds. Heed the old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today!”

2021 is a make-or-break year, so let us know how we can help — let’s transform your future together.

Further information

If you’re an Irish retailer who’s interested in the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme, you should:

  • Read all available official information on the programme and make get to know all the objectives;
  • Check the eligibility criteria and rules;
  • Review evaluation and scoring;
  • Identify an internal champion in your company who will drive the project;
  • Engage with a digital agency who can understand your business, help with the application form and deliver a wide ranging eCommerce plan from start to finish. Matrix has been on the approved agency panel for Enterprise Ireland for many years, so we know exactly how to impress the judges with winning applications.

We’ve been taking notes at Enterprise Ireland webinars through the first two rounds, so you don’t have to. Here’s exactly what you need to know…

The ORS 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;


  • Call open date: Tuesday, May 4, 2021
  • Call Close date: Tuesday, May 25 (noon)
  • Enterprise Ireland has advised participants to start the application process as soon as possible — 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
  • Greater than 50% B2C sales activities

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

In a webinar in 2020, 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 started?
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 applying for the scheme, please email ecommerce@matrixinternet.ie