Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches national programme to get Irish Business online

Dublin, Monday May 9th, 2011: An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. today launched a national campaign to get Irish businesses online and make the most of the economic opportunity of the Internet.

Getting Irish Business Online (www.gettingbusinessonline.ie) is a partnership between Google, Blacknight Internet Solutions, An Post and the County & City Enterprise Boards and is targeting the 40% of Irish SMEs including sole traders that do not have a website or an online presence.  The campaign is calling on all businesses that do not have a website to log on to http://www.gettingbusinessonline.ie where they can create their business website for free.

The launch of the campaign was also attended by the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton T.D.  and Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry T.D.

Speaking at the launch An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D., said, “Irish businesses need to be establishing themselves on-line now to get a foothold in the on-line market. In the challenging economic times that we are working to overcome, having an on-line presence would help Irish businesses survive and keep people in jobs. For most businesses, having a presence online is no longer an optional extra: it’s an essential part of business in the twenty-first century.

The presence of Google and other technology companies here forming a digital services hub is a very real asset to the Irish economy. This new innovation will help get more Irish small business online – so they can sell their goods and services from Ballina to Beijing.”

Google research shows that almost 60% of Irish commercial SMEs do not have an entry in an online directory and that 40% do not have a website. This is despite the millions of euros being spent by Irish consumers shopping online every year. Over 75% of Irish customers use the Internet as their primary tool for researching new companies and products, and 68% believe that search engines help to find relevant sellers of products.   But, with only 21% of Irish businesses e-commerce enabled, Ireland is effectively losing revenues to  UK and US online businesses.

Google’s research also found that common barriers to setting up online are a lack of skills, perceived high costs and time restrictions. Many businesses surveyed think that the average cost to set up a website is 1,000 euro whereas the campaign launched today will provide a website for free and it will be quick to set up and easy to use.  The campaign will also provide online training materials at http://www.gettingbusinessonline.ie and further training via seminars held by the County & City Enterprise Boards.

Ronan Harris, Director of Online Sales, Google said:  “There is a huge opportunity for Irish businesses which they are failing to grasp.  An online presence gives the potential to increase sales and revenues not just locally but internationally and helps to build stronger, more sustainable businesses that will ultimately benefit local, regional and the national economies.

Irish consumers spend almost 20 hours per week online and with millions of people in Ireland shopping online there is a significant marketplace for Irish SMEs to exploit.  At the moment a large part of that spend is going overseas and we need to accelerate the number of Irish businesses online. Today we are hopefully seeing the start of a national movement which will gather momentum and bring every sole trader, micro enterprise and  SME online.”

The Getting Irish Business Online campaign will support businesses and sole traders to build a free website  in under 30 minutes which is the first step to building an online business. Blacknight Solutions will provide participants with a free website, and hosting with a .ie, eu or .com domain name which is free for one year from the set-up of their website. Google will also provide a trial of online advertising with a coupon worth €100. The County & City Enterprise Boards will run nationwide seminars giving registered businesses additional support in setting up a website and learning how to attract new custom online.

An Post is supporting integration of a postage calculator into a full e-commerce solution, launching June 1st and it will provide promotional offers, support and advice to businesses who sell online and have developed their website through Getting Irish Business Online.

Businesses interested in getting a website set up should go to the Getting Irish Business Online campaign website http://www.gettingbusinessonline.ie  to set up their website with a straightforward step by step process. Once established their web address can be found using Google’s search engine and they can also learn how to further enhance their business website to attract new customers online.

Liam Walsh of AAC Services, one of the first companies to set up his business online via the Getting Irish Business Online tool said, “I always thought it would be too expensive and time consuming to set up a website so I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was to set up.  Having an online presence means that if someone searches for plumbing or heating services my business can now be found online which is great.”

-ends-

Editors Notes, Getting Irish Business Online partners’ comments

Blacknight Internet Solutions, An Post and the County & City Enterprise Boards have partnered with Google to support getting Irish business on line.

An Post (www.anpost.ie)

Donal Connell, CEO, An Post said, “An Post has a unique position at the heart of Irish business and Irish society and we’re pleased to bring our logistics, online fulfilment and marketing know-how to this positive, practical initiative. Getting Irish Business Online supports An Post’s strategy of working with the Irish SME sector in developing their commercial capabilities.  By working together, we will play a full and active part in the national recovery programme.”

Blacknight Solutions (www.blacknight.com)

Michele Neylon, Managing Director, Blacknight Solutions said: “We have helped thousands of Irish businesses to set up online and we are confident that the tool we have created for this campaign will be easy to use. We know all the pitfalls, what is best practice and how beneficial being online can be for businesses, so we hope that thousands of Irish businesses will take advantage of this fantastic free offer.”

County & City Enterprise Boards  (www.enterpriseboards.ie)

Sean Ryan , CEO, County & City Enterprise Boards said, “The County & City Enterprise Boards are strongly focused on building capacity in Ireland’s micro enterprises. 74% of Irish companies surveyed by Google believe that training seminars will be helpful to them so through a series of nationwide seminars the County & City Enterprise Boards will help Irish SMEs and sole traders to learn how to harness the online environment. We are delighted to use our knowledge of Ireland’s SMEs to help get Irish Businesses online.”

For further information visit http://www.gettingbusinessonline.ie

Press Information please contact:

Laurie Mannix, Google Press Office 086 – 8143710  or  Celine Crawford, Google Press Office 086 – 8235777

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