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Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme: What You Need to Know

What is the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted businesses significantly. Businesses needing an online presence is more vital than ever. The department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has put forward the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme to respond to the need for retail companies to improve and build their online presence and capacity to do business online.

How Much Can Your Business Avail Of Under the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

Successful applicants to the scheme can avail of a maximum of 80% of the eligible project costs up to a maximum of €40,000. The minimum grant amount payable is €10,000. Projects that propose projected expenditure less than €12,500 are not eligible for the scheme. 

Is My Business Eligible under the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

Applications are open to Irish owned retail companies that have 10 or more employees that have the potential to sustain or create jobs, generate growth through online transactions and have a goal of making their company international in the future.  

  • To apply your business must also follow the following criteria:
  • Already have an online presence in the form of a website or social media
  • Have a retail outlet(s) and currently get most of your revenue from this
  • You must have more than 10 employees

Details of the application can be found here. 

What would make my business ineligible for the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

  • Applications that have a proposed spend of less than €12,500 are ineligible (grant covers €10,000 in the €12,500 circumstance as the grant covers 80%)
  • Franchises are ineligible for the scheme
  • Projects that do not propose significant additional functionality to your online presence
  • Applicants who have been approved funding from another state or the EU for the project are ineligible
  • Companies active in arigultural products, fishery, aquaculture, hospitality, leisure services or companies where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed on the premises are ineligible.
  • Companies active in areas that are considered ineligible by enterprise Ireland or pose reputational risk such as gambling for example are ineligible.
  • Companies that have previously availed of funding for online marketing improvement from Enterprise Ireland or can available of an Enterprise Ireland grant are ineligible
  • Companies that have reached their De Minimis aid limit are ineligible. 

For more information on eligibility see here.

What Are Eligible Activities Under The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?


Research is a vital part of assessing a company’s current situation and determining the best roadmap to online success. Research will help you make an informed decision on the online strategy your company needs to work effectively online. This is an eligible activity under the Covid-19 online retail scheme

Strategy Development

From the research, the development of a strategy is key. This activity is an eligible activity under the Covid-19 online retail scheme. Identifying how to position your brand in light of the research, maximising the online potential and creating omni channel offerings are examples of aspects of building your strategy. 


Implementing your strategy to meet your business goals is an eligible activity under the Covid-19 retail scheme. This may include things like search engine optimisation, website improvements or making “back end” system improvements for example. 

What are eligible costs under the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme?

  • Salary costs of a senior project champion (manager level or above) in the applicant company to work with an external service provider on this project. The costs to support the salary of the project champion must not exceed the external service provider costs. A maximum of 1 internal champion per company is eligible for salary costs;
  • Fees of established external service provider(s) to develop a digital strategy;
  • Fees of established external service provider(s) to further develop / enhance the company’s transactional website or online presence. The grant must be used to introduce additional functionality; and
  • Training Course fees are not eligible, however in-house training provided by an external provider to enable a company develop and maintain a robust online retail operation are eligible. This could include training for CMS, eMarketing, catalogue management, e-commerce systems, SEO, etc.

Ineligible costs include:

  • Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual;
  • The purchase of hardware or “off the shelf” software package licences or subscriptions e.g. for Customer Relationship Management (CRM); and
  • The funding of online advertising campaigns e.g. pay per click campaigns.

For more information on eligible costs and eligible expenditures and limits click here. 

Can I work with an agency and avail of the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

Under the Covid-19 Retail Scheme you can work with an agency to research, strategise and implement your eligible digital changes that enhance your online presence. Working with an agency can provide detailed research about your company, create a strategy that is focused on your business goals and objectives and implement the changes for your business growth.

How can I work with 3B1 and avail of the Covid-19 Retail Scheme?

To start your project with 3B1 we start with a free consultation that you can book online here. From there we put a strategy and proposal together for you that is tailored to your business goals and objectives. Take a look at some of our case studies and past projects here.