SMEs have until Friday, 8 April to apply to the OPTIMISE Fund 2016 for a chance to secure up to €10,000 in training and services to help them improve their website and online presence.

The OPTIMISE Fund, offered by the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) which manages and operates .ie domain names, enables Irish SMEs to develop their websites and sell online with e-commerce.

Since its inception in 2011, the OPTIMISE Fund has provided funding to 75 Irish SMEs. Over the past six years, the OPTIMISE Fund has helped SMEs provide online quotations and booking facilities; take payments; develop ‘click and collect’ functionality; ensure websites are mobile responsive; and make it easier and more straightforward for business owners themselves to update their websites.

The fund is open all Irish SMEs with a .ie domain, regardless of their business, product or service. Participants in 2015 included a Dublin-based on-demand laundry service (cleanfreaks.ie), a homeware and gifts store from West Cork (TheOldMillStores.ie), a menswear store in Cork City (Salingers.ie) and a Wicklow adventure holiday travel company (AdventureHolidays.ie).

Top Irish chef and owner of the Itsa Bagel restaurants, Domini Kemp, is this year’s OPTIMISE Fund ambassador. According to Ms Kemp: “Every business, regardless of industry, can benefit from having a website. Your website is often the first port of call for new or potential customers. 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.”

David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said: “The OPTIMISE Fund is a great opportunity for SMEs who want to significantly improve their current online offering. With increasing numbers of customer sales now taking place online, Irish SMEs can no longer ignore this key sales route.

“At IEDR we know too that SME owners are busy people and that’s why we have ensured that applying for the fund takes no more than 30 minutes.

“If there’s one thing that SMEs can do in 2016 to increase sales, attract new customers and develop their business for the long term, enhancing their online offering can achieve these objectives. That’s why we encourage all SMEs to apply for the OPTIMISE Fund to help them with this process.”

Interested SMEs can find out more about the OPTIMISE Fund 2016 by logging on to www.iedr.ie/optimise for further information.

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