| 13.8°C Belfast

Retailers urged to apply for Invest NI's e-commerce grant


Grant: Martin Neill, AirPOS says the scheme presents a now or never scenario

Grant: Martin Neill, AirPOS says the scheme presents a now or never scenario

Grant: Martin Neill, AirPOS says the scheme presents a now or never scenario

Retailers have been urged to start embracing the potential of multi-channel retail by applying for an e-commerce grant.

The £3m Covid-19 Micro Business Ecommerce grant scheme run by economic development agency Invest NI closes on Friday.

It offers small retailers the opportunity to purchase a transactional website for their business and claim 80% of the costs back. The grant also covers online integration costs, e-commerce training and digital marketing services in full packages up to the value of £5,000.

Multichannel retail software company AirPOS, e-commerce web design firm Chorus Commerce and inventory management business Scanmatix are offering free online webinars to retailers who have yet to embrace online retail.

One webinar takes place today.

Martin Neill, chief executive of AirPOS said: "We've already worked with hundreds of local businesses who are embracing digital alongside their physical retail stores and seeing huge success.

"The new grant scheme from Invest NI now makes this possible for all micro-retailers and presents a 'now or never' scenario for business owners."

Weekly Business Digest

Margaret Canning’s selection of the must-read business stories straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning

This field is required

He added that even long-established retailers at the heart of their communities were at risk from the retail trend towards online, which had accelerated in lockdown.

"We all want to see footfall return to our town and city centres but given the confusion around a roadmap to reopen and the potential for tiered lockdowns for the foreseeable future, it is now vital that retailers here integrate online selling into their retail business if they want to compete in the short and long term," Mr Neill said.

He added that while online giants like Asos and Amazon had "powerful technology and massive budgets, "local retailers have built genuine trust, sometimes over generations, and that is something that cannot be emulated by a remote, online-only business".