SME Start

Practical business supports and information that enable you to get online and thrive online

Start, build, grow…..unlock the power of the internet

Consumers expect businesses to be online

Having an online presence in today’s digital environment is essential. If you are providing goods or services as a business, sole trader or contractor, it’s crucial that customers and potential customers can find you online as it is the first place they will look.

Our .IE Digital Health Index research shows that 80% of Irish consumers agree that all businesses should have, at the very least, a basic website with contact details and opening hours. Nearly two-thirds (63%) think a business is outdated if it doesn’t have a website.

The way Irish consumers spend online and in-store is changing. Our .IE Tipping Point Report 2022 reveals 50% of consumers said they spent more online in 2021 than they did in 2020. 55% will prioritise online shopping over in-store in 2022.

Consumers in the post-Covid era will be driven by convenience, ease of use and experience. Just as many now value the flexibility of hybrid working, they also value hybrid shopping. Consumers enjoy the experience and the convenience of in-store shopping while simultaneously valuing the ease and speed of e-commerce.

They will gravitate towards businesses that give them the best of both worlds.

Strong generational differences are emerging in consumer attitudes to online and in-store shopping. Digital-first preferences are particularly apparent among younger consumers. SMEs need to be aware of the different shopping preferences among the digital natives, particularly as economic purchasing power shifts to them in the coming years. Businesses that do not cater to these needs or offer a compelling online experience will simply lose out to their competitors at home and abroad.

Top tips to get started

Below are a selection of resources to help guide you on your online journey.

How to grow your business online

This webinar contains a wealth of practical advice and tips that you can start working on today.

WEBINAR: Grow your business online

Improving your digital skills

Check out your Local Enterprise Office for a range of practical digital training programmes, which are very affordable and will get you up and running in no time.

SME Online Success Stories

See how having an online presence with a .ie website helped these businesses grow.

Ready to thrive online?

It is easy and fast to register a .ie online address which is preferred by businesses in Ireland.

If you are trading in Ireland, an Irish country code top level domain – in other words, a .ie domain name – makes you and your business stand out as either being based in Ireland or having a connection with Ireland. A uniquely Irish online identity. This is important in building trust with your customers who are based in Ireland and are more likely to click on local website addresses.

A .ie website address will also rank higher than a .com address on Irish based search engines, like Consumers can have confidence in your business as .ie is a well-established and trusted domain because every .ie applicant’s identity is checked and validated at the point of registration

Read more about the benefits of a .ie online address.

If you already have your .ie domain and you are looking to use it, talk to your .ie accredited Registrar about your options.