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Trading Online Voucher National Digital Strategy

Trading-Online-VoucherNEWSFLASH  Compulsory Information Session for anyone wishing to apply for the NDS Trading Online Voucher – Talk to your local Enterprise Office.  To be considered for the grant you must attend one of these 60 minute Sessions. Online during COVID via Zoom call.

The Extended Trading Online Voucher launched in April 2020 offers 90% grant up to €2500.00 if applied for before December 30th 2020 – see full details at https://meanit.ie/lp-trading-online-voucher-expanded/

Under the Government’s National Strategy, the now expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets.

UPDATE Dec 2020 – There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from business* The Department announced a further €20 million on July 23rd 2020. See HERE for full details on the COVID response stimulus package. Scheme ends on Dec 30th https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Trading-Online-Voucher-Scheme-/ after which it reverts back to 50% up to a make grant of €2500.

Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.

NDS Trading Online VoucherPhase 1 and 2 of the small, but very successful “Test” were done in Dublin in 2014. followed by the rest of the country in August for this part of the National Digital Strategy. Now five years later in 2019, to build on the success of the 2014/15/16 roll out, more vouchers are becoming available – LIMITED NUMBER.

1000 Vouchers were given out by end June 2015 and a report revealed some findings, namely:

Consumers across Ireland now spending almost €1m online every hour

  • 70% of NDS Voucher firms expect to employ on average 1.4 new more staff members this year
  • Average sales increase by NDS recipients up by over 20%
  • 85% saw an increase in customer enquiries
  • 40% had generated customer interest from new markets overseas
  • 60% said that the new business was additional and did not displace existing sales
  • 99% expected their online business to grow in importance
  • 80% said the competitive application process helped them in business strategy planning.
  • Strongest growth in new export markets

NB This should not be made a foundation stone for your Marketing Plan, but many eligible Companies will not read about this or apply for the grant – so get your application in now.
Tip: Make sure it is filled in correctly online and include your TC2 Tax Clearance form.

Applying companies for the €2,500 voucher will be expected to match that amount in terms of their own investment. It is not strictly confined to e-commerce websites, but some digital innovation, preferably eCommerce or a Digital change in the business, an app, a new software solution or a social media marketing plan. Companies must turn over less than €2 million pa and employ less than 10 people. Three quotes will be required.

If an eCommerce solution was to cost say €4,000.00 then an applicant could apply for a €2000 voucher from the Local Enterprise Office.

Who cannot apply ? Charities, Trade Organisations, Semi State Bodies or Not for Profit organisations or any company employing more than 10 or turning over more than €2m. A business must exist for at least 6 months before being qualified for this grant.

What can you use the Voucher for ?
Third Party Costs only:
Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy can account for 30% of spend
IT Consultancy
Developing or upgrading eCommerce website
Implementing Online Booking or Payments Systems
Customer Fulfilment systems
Buying Internet related Software
Developing an APP or Mobile website
Online Advertising – can account for 30% of spend

What can you not spend on ?
A Brochure or static website
Buying Non Internet Related Software
Anything other than online trading activity
Your own labour costs
Any non commercial developer will not be recognised, so use a proper web partner (Get clearance with LEO)

All money must be spent before the voucher can be given and an application must be made to your Local Enterprise Office in advance. Receipts and proof of payment, ex VAT, as in bank statement, should be sent in prior to cut off date. Include TC2 Form and 3 quotes. A one page report will be expected when project is completed and before payment is made. Get Application form by attending one of the Information Seminars.

How to apply?
In order to make an application you must attend one of the information sessions at your Local Enterprise Office, which will provide all the details as to how to apply, but also how to best use and gain value from the voucher to support your online trading proposition.

Vouchers can be used for?
The Online Trading Vouchers can be used for the development or upgrade of an e-commerce website such as implementing online payments or booking systems.
Other usage includes; purchase of Internet related software, online advertising, development of an app, implementation of a digital marketing strategy, consultation with ICT experts for early stage adopters of online strategy, training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity. At €5k this will not fund a full blown eCommerce project, but can be the first step of a strategic plan.

The LEO will base its decision on Project Suitability, Export Potential, Job Creation, Increased Online Sales potential and Quality of ICT proposal. Any applicant needs a TC2 Tax Clearance Certificate


Show that you have done some Competitor analysis and have an understanding of it
State your Target Market
How does your proposed project help your business
What is the Export Potential
How will you use or leverage existing assets
What is the Value added potential
Is there any job creation potential – be realistic
Can your project be done in 3 months
The quality of of the ICT project must be good
Be realistic with your projections – high figures will not fool or impress the LEO
This is not just a subsidy for a Google Ads campaign

The voucher scheme will be managed by Local Enterprise Offices,  with Full Specs here 

” Recognising the growing importance of the digital economy, Minister Rabbitte also announced that he was setting aside €5m in 2014 to assist in the roll out of a national trading-online voucher scheme, aimed at getting 2,000 small Irish businesses trading online.

“There is an enormous opportunity for Irish businesses in the online space and significant risks if they do not develop online trading platforms” Minister Rabbitte said. Irish consumers spent approximately €3.7bn online last year, of which 70% was spent outside Ireland. Less than 1 in 4 small Irish businesses are trading online. Research undertaken for the European Commission indicates that traditional businesses which have a meaningful online presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people. “In Ireland, where the digital economy represents 4.4% of GDP, there is a real opportunity for small businesses to grow. My ambition is to ensure that a much greater proportion of the online spend stays in Ireland, supports Irish businesses and creates jobs in this country. For that to happen many more Irish businesses need to offer services online”.

In preparation for the design of a national scheme, a two phase pilot will be launched in Dublin next week. Under the pilot scheme vouchers of up to €2,500 will be provided to 50 small companies to help them develop an online trading presence. The scheme will be administered by the Local Enterprise Office and will target small enterprises that employ less than 10 people and have a turnover of less than €2m per annum.” Minister Pat Rabbitte in the Budget Speech 2013.

Conclusion: Seize the opportunity

More people showed an interest in the recent rounds of NDS Trading Online Vouchers with many attending the information seminars, but the number of actual applicants was relatively low. Some put it down to an onerous application form – it was indeed a document with 15 pages, but the questions were straightforward and the time required was very small – maybe two hours. The process however of attending the Session and learning how to go about creating a successful online strategy, did put many people off, because it highlighted how much time and money would be needed by them. Herein lies the real challenge. Are you ready to move your business to the next stage, where digital becomes the future. The web is a new platform that offers great opportunities, but it takes time and investment to get right. Start somewhere and work on it. Make life easier by creating a Web Strategy or get someone in to do it for you. Is it confusing? Yes, but so is fly-fishing or golf until you learn the basics and practice. Talk to us if you have any questions

Note: There is a small grant of circa €1,000.00 to add Irish content on your website from Foras na Gaeilge Scéim Tacaíochta Gnó/ Business Support Scheme see here

Do you want more traffic?

Hi, at MEANit we help 40 ‘Professional Services Businesses‘ to be effective online annually. Will your business be one of the 40 in 2021?


Written by Michael MacGinty

Michael is a well known speaker, author and coach on how to use the web to grow a business. He is also WP Elevation certified as a Digital Business Consultant.
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