It’s now over to the public to choose 10 winners from the 30-strong shortlist, with the remaining five winners selected by an independent expert panel. Voting opened on Friday and will stay open until Friday, 17 June.
Valued at €125,000, the IEDR’s OPTIMISE Fund provides 10 days’ worth of digital consultancy, training and development to 15 SMEs to build their e-commerce offering and online presence.
Among this year’s shortlisted companies are a moving and storage company (buska.ie), a tour operator (lazybiketours.ie), a fitness business (tdfitness.ie), an online e-learning course provider (primocomm.ie) and an online fashion retailer (alila.ie).
Launched in 2011, the OPTIMISE Fund works shoulder-to-shoulder with Irish SMEs and micro-enterprises to make greater use of existing web technologies and become e-commerce ready.
David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said: “Online spending by Irish consumers rose by 17% to €6.5bn in 2015 and is forecast to hit €21bn by 2020.”
“We need to show SMEs the value of embracing e-commerce and work side-by-side with them to improve their online offerings. If we don’t, there is a risk that a two-tier economy could emerge between innovative, customer responsive and probably more profitable SMEs with an online presence and those SMES without one.”
Domini Kemp, top Irish chef and entrepreneur, is also supporting this year’s campaign. “Every business, regardless of industry, can benefit from having a website”, she said.
“Your website is often the first port of call for new or potential customers. It can act as a calling card, a mission statement, a shop front and a digital marketplace; there are so many more opportunities for growth when you have an online presence, whether it be to broaden consumer bases or tap into new revenue streams. Businesses that don’t have an online sales presence are at a considerable disadvantage to competitors that do. It’s also a major frustration for customers, for whom buying online is now the norm.”
To see the list of shortlisted companies and vote for your favourite, visit www.iedr.ie/optimise. Voting is open until Friday, 17 June.