Figures released this week by the Local Enterprise Offices as part of International Internet Day have shown the benefits of being online to small businesses in Carlow
Research has shown that a business which establishes an online presence sees a 21% increase in sales and an 84% increase in customer enquiries, on average.
The research also highlights that 73% of sales online among small businesses come from new customers, as opposed to existing ones.
Small companies who set up an online presence are also likely to create new jobs. On average, a small business which begins to sell online will hire 1.4 new employees.
Those companies who establish themselves on the internet also increase their opportunities to sell internationally and open their business to new markets. 3 out of 5 businesses who set up an online presence begin to export for the first time.
Speaking about benefits of being online, Pauline Hoctor, Senior Enterprise Development Officer in Carlow, said: "Being online is a fundamental part of being in business and for companies that are not yet online, they could be missing out on sales and exports. However, it can be daunting for some.
"The types of questions small businesses have are: how can I create a new website or add a booking system? How can I develop an app for customers? How can I advertise my business on social media?
"The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is aimed at those businesses. Local Enterprise Office (Carlow) can provide up to €2,500 in matched funding, along with expert help and training to get more businesses online."
Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office in Carlow County Council, said: "With a marketplace which is experiencing unprecedented challenges , opportunities and changes it is so important that we do everything we can to support our smallest firms to grow and scale.
"We will continue to assist companies realize their digital potential by providing supports that make a difference and help drive business success."
Local Enterprise Office Carlow is helping more Irish businesses get online through the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment under the National Digital Strategy: Phase 1 (2013).
This matched funding scheme gives small businesses access to expert mentoring, training and a €2,500 voucher to set themselves up online.
Since the Trading Online Voucher Scheme began in 2014, almost 6,000 small companies in Ireland have been able to grow their business online through the initiative.
In addition to this, the Local Enterprise Offices have advised over 22,000 small Irish businesses how to effectively use e-commerce to grow their business.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is just one of the supports available to small businesses through their Local Enterprise Office.
The range of supports includes funding for starting up and growing your business, mentoring for small businesses, training in a range of specific areas and consultancy for issues like Brexit and productivity.
21% average increase in sales for small businesses who set up online*
84% of those businesses who set up online have an increase in customer enquiries*
73% of online sales were new sales and did not displace existing sales*
Small businesses who establish an online presence employee on average 1.4 additional staff*
3 out of 5 businesses who create an online presence begin to export*
5,875 – Trading Online Vouchers accessed since 2014
17,005 – Attendees at Trading Online Voucher Scheme information sessions since 2014
22,132 – No of businesses advised on trading online by Local Enterprise Offices since 2014