The Government has opened a new funding round of the Online Retail Scheme, which supports Irish based retailers looking to grow their online sales.

The scheme provides direct financial support to retail companies to develop a more competitive online business offering to complement their in-store offering.

There is €9.3m available in this round of funding, which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland.

"I want Irish based retailers to have every chance of competing for online sales that are currently going outside the country," said Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.

"The transition to online shopping was accelerated over the last two years and consumers retail habits have changed significantly.

"It makes sound business sense to have an omnichannel approach to selling in order to cater for these new demands and to be competitive in the market," he said.

Minister English said almost all previous recipients of funding in the Online Retail Scheme reported an increase in online sales.

"Many in international markets and the vast majority have hired additional employees to manage their increase in online sales," he added.

In order to be eligible for this funding, companies must have ten or more full-time employees and an existing online presence.

The departments said previous applicants of the Online Retail Scheme who were unsuccessful will be eligible to reapply under this call with a modified proposal.

Applicants who were successful in previous calls are also eligible to re-apply under this round of the scheme, once they propose a project that is clearly different from their previous applications.

Jenny Melia, Manager of Technology and Services at Enterprise Ireland said there have been over 500 successful approvals under the Online Retail Scheme.

"Companies applying for funding are future-proofing their business as they will be able to cater for multiple different shoppers," she said.

"We are encouraging applicants to show us clear objectives for their digital projects, and we want them to demonstrate the impact these changes would have on their business.

"We are also encouraging applicant companies to assign an Internal Project Champion amongst their team, as this is an investment for them to build the in-house digital capabilities of employees," she said.

The Online Retail Scheme opens for applications today and closes on 1 June 2022.