As Irish companies adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic and the so-called ‘new normal’, many businesses who operated primarily offline are looking to adopt a digital approach to enable them to dispense of their physical premises and move online.
Restaurants are a great example of having successfully transitioned with many now running online take away services. We have outlined some tips and things to consider when moving your business online below.
Develop a Web Presence
While setting up an online presence may seem daunting for business owners, it may be quite simple if you have help. Many organisations, such as Enterprise Ireland, have established training programs and are offering grants to assist with the move online. Some of these programs are listed below:
- Digital Business Ireland are offering a free webinar and online training series from some of Ireland’s top e-Commerce advisors;
- Facebook has announced a $100million grant available to 30,000 small businesses in 30 countries across the world. Irish companies can apply for the cash grant of $3,000 or ad credits to help connect with their customers online.
- The eCommerce Association of Ireland have established a task force of experts to help mentor new traders setting up in eCommerce by offering mentoring sessions for a minimum of 5 hours each.
- DMG Media are offering small companies an advertising package worth up to €5,000 running online ads across DMG Media sites (such as Extra.ie, Irish Daily Mail, EVOKE).
You can see the assistance offered to Irish businesses by Enterprise Ireland here and here.
Social Media is another inexpensive way to grow your business’ following and reach out directly to your customers by notifying them of any updates to the way your business operates. It may be the first step to take in developing a web presence.
It should be noted that if you are seeking the assistance of a web developer to set up your website, it is important to have an agreement between you setting out exactly who owns the intellectual property that will be contained on the website.
Policies to have in place
While it may be relatively straightforward to launch a website, it is important to bear in mind that your company’s obligations may change from the transition; for example, your obligations under consumer law. Therefore, we recommend businesses consider putting the following policies in place and having them clearly displayed on their website:
Terms and Conditions:
As face to face customer interaction is removed when a business moves online, it is important to ensure the customer is aware of the terms and conditions of the transaction and their rights. For example, under the EU (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013, a consumer must be informed of their right to cancel an off premises contract prior to becoming bound by the contract. By displaying terms and conditions on a business’ website, it enables the business to comply with this legislation as well as set out exactly how the transaction will proceed. This will save the business time and effort in the long run as the terms and conditions will usually answer a lot of the user’s questions; for example, if goods are to be delivered, this process would be outlined in detail.
Acceptable Use Policy
An acceptable use policy, or fair use policy, is created by the owner of a website and sets out the rules which govern its use. It may contain a list of restricted activities which, if breached, would result in a user being banned from the website. An acceptable use policy may help protect a business from any actions arising from a third party’s activity which contravenes the policy.
By ensuring your employees have the necessary technology and equipment to work from home, apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, make it easier than ever to stay connected to your employees and continue working.
Rented office space
As a result of the government’s restrictions, many commercial tenants are finding themselves paying rent for a property that they won’t be using for quite some time. For a detailed look at a commercial landlord and tenant’s rights and obligations during Covid 19, click here. It might be worth attempting to negotiate a rent reduction/moratorium as it is in the landlord’s interest for your business to recover and for you to resume paying rent.
If you have queries around moving your business online, contact Head of Corporate Gríana O’Kelly at [email protected] or Katie Oakes at [email protected] or call 01 644 5800.