OPTIMISE Programme – supporting industry bodies to assist SMEs to develop their online presence

by Naomi Temple
16 Jul 2018

Up to 40 Irish SMEs will benefit from an improved online presence and enhanced e-commerce sales potential, through our OPTIMISE programme this year.

Now in its eighth year, the OPTIMISE programme has assisted over 130 small and micro-business owners to hone their digital skills and capabilities and enhance their e-commerce potential to realise and grow online sales. To date, we have invested €742,000 in the programme.

According to figures from our Digital Health Index (Q4 2017), nearly three-quarters of Irish SMEs do not engage in e-commerce and almost 20 percent of Irish SMEs have no online presence. This is despite the fact that 54% of consumers would shop with a competitor if a company does not have a website. There is clearly an appetite for more direction, advice and guidance, with 32% of SMEs reporting they want e-commerce training.

Sector-based approach

Last year, we relaunched OPTIMISE, announcing a new sector-based approach to the programme whereby we partner with industry representative organisations to improve digital skills for their member companies within specific sectors. By doing so, OPTIMISE has been able to scale up the programme to assist more SMEs to become digitally enabled, more quickly.

Our first partnership in 2017 was with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) and it proved successful in assisting Irish design and craft businesses to improve their online presence and e-commerce capabilities.

This year, the Irish Hardware Association, the national representative body of hardware/DIY retailers, builders, merchants, manufacturers and distributors to trade in Ireland was added to the programme.  In total, 40 SMEs are set to complete OPTIMISE in 2018, an almost three-fold increase on 2016’s programme.

We are actively seeking further partnerships with leading sectoral organisation’s representative groups. We are keen to work with industry leaders to help to build sector-specific plans for digitisation of the sales process to deliver improvements in productivity and drive efficiencies for their members.

Success stories

Participants reaped the benefits of the OPTIMISE Programme. See our individual case studies below:

Commenting on the success of the OPTIMISE programme, our Chief Executive, David Curtin, said:

“We live in an age of convenience where consumers expect their retailers, local shops and big brands alike, to be online and accessible. The digital marketplace is open 365 days a year, and any business, no matter its size or location, can take part, build their brand and win back customers from Amazon. Improving Irish SME participation in this connected world is the primary goal of OPTIMISE.

“Partnering with an industry association such as the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland last year has opened up a world of opportunity for high quality, premium Irish craft and design businesses, making web design, digital skills and e-commerce more accessible. We are looking forward to building on the success of OPTIMISE in years to come through further strategic partnerships with sectoral organisations, to assist them in digitising the sale process, with solutions tailored for its members.

Brian McGee, Market Development Director of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland said:

“OPTIMISE unlocks so much value for our members, who otherwise would not have the expert guidance to enhance their online presence. IE Domain Registry are wonderful partners because they bring extraordinary digital capability to the table and the marriage of that with our sectoral knowledge makes this programme work so well.”

Read: What is the OPTIMISE Programme?