DBI: Online trading presence now more important than footfall

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DBI urges government to increase supports for online businesses in its pre-Budget 2021 submission

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30 September 2020 | 0

An online trading presence is now more important than footfall on the high street, according to Lorraine Higgins, chief executive of Digital Business Ireland (DBI). This comes as the representative organisation is seeking increased supports for online businesses in its pre-Budget 2021 submission to government. 

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, who has been furnished with the Budget submission, has been told that DBI believes there now exists a huge export potential as more and more shoppers move online as Coivd-19 restrictions remain in place. DBI believes a large percentage of this new digital business is likely to move permanently from the high street. 

“While these are very uncertain times for businesses at the moment, it also represents a major opportunity to embrace the digital business world,” said Higgins. “Having an online presence is now more important than footfall on the high street and government must recognise this with direct supports in Budget 2021. Irish businesses must be ready to increase their online presence or else be ready to watch other countries take our markets.”  

 

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According to DBI, the digital part of the economy in Ireland is growing at 16% per year – more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy. The digital economy already supports almost 95,000 jobs both directly and indirectly and this figure is continuing to grow. 

“Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the conversation on new business models and a clear shift towards a more digitalised future,” added Higgins. “For Ireland to take advantage of this post Covid-19 digitalised world, government must be willing to take up the mantle of driving national and EU stakeholders towards a coordinated approach to enhance and safeguard our digital future.” 

Higgins noted that over the course of the Covid-19 economic shutdown, a 200% increase in retail sales online was observed and there was a 50% increase in the number of domains registered. “Irish consumers and businesses are now more confident to conduct business online, however more needs to be done to encourage micro and small enterprises to embrace it’s potential.” 

In its pre-Budget 2021 submission, DBI asked the Minister to consider: 

  • Increasing funding for online supports under the DTOV scheme and the Online Retail Scheme to reflect the growing digitisation of businesses 
  • Introducing a new layer of funding under the Digital Trading Online Voucher to €10,000 to help businesses acquire a fully functioning eCommerce website 
  • Changing the eligibility requirements under the Online Retail Scheme and remove the minimum number of employees’ requirement (10) to allow scalable companies at the start of their digital journey take advantage of the supports on offer 

Higgins believes micro and small online businesses need to be facilitated to scale and grow: “Increasing facilities conducive to selling online is crucial. Many premises have over the shop facilities that need to be recalibrated to consider infrastructural needs of doing business post-Covid. These need to become micro or mini-fulfilment centres where staff with digital skills can organise orders, process them and accept payments.” 

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