This past week the B.C. government began investing $12 million to help businesses launch or upgrade an online store that will provide the platform they need to increase their sales revenues, become more competitive and grow. Up to 25% of the program funds will be reserved for regional and Indigenous businesses.
How Does It Work?
People have increased their reliance on online shopping with over $305 billion in e-commerce sales in Canada in 2019. E-commerce sales are projected to have doubled through 2020 and are expected to increase further in 2021.
The new Launch Online Grant program is designed to help over 1,500 eligible small- and medium-sized B.C. businesses adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and pivot to market their products online to help curve the disruption COVID-19 has had on small businesses. The government will fund up to 75 percent of eligible expenses for qualifying applicants, this is up to $7,500 per business.
Grant recipients can use the funding for a variety of online-related expenses, including pictures, creating an online inventory system, advertising costs, subscription costs of an e-commerce platform, and training staff to manage the website.
Who Qualifies For The Grant?
The grant is aimed at keeping BC consumer money in BC, this means applicants should be based in the province. To apply, you should meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
- The owner of the company must be a BC resident (or residents)
- Your business must operate solely or primarily within BC
- You must be currently operating, and employing BC residents (with employees totalling fewer than 149)
- You must be registered in and pay taxes in BC
- You must have a business license number and a GST number; plus a PST and WorkSafe BC number if applicable
Furthermore, the grant is only open to businesses with a sales component that can shift to an e-commerce model. Your business must meet the following requirements:
- Have generated sales of more than $30,000 in either 2019 or the year preceding application
- Have repeatable products, or, if you sell handmade art or jewelry, multiple unique products with significant similarities
The grant is primarily aimed towards small businesses that don’t currently have an online business, however, you may still apply if you have no more than 3 of the following 5 attributes:
- Customer registration and information security features (for example, a customer login portal and credit card encryption)
- Shopping cart and order management capabilities
- Payment processing options that automatically apply taxes and shipping costs
- A searchable product catalogue with inventory status
- Website analytics and reporting capabilities
How Do I Apply?
Applications for the grant are now open! First, you'll need to apply for the grant on www.launchonline.ca.
You will want to develop an in-depth grant proposal that clearly explains your plan for using the allocated funds. This may include cost estimates broken down into categories.
The grant works on a first-come, first-serve basis and the application form will stay open until all the funds have been allocated. You will be contacted by Alacrity Canada within 3 weeks of your submission. If you meet the qualification criteria, you will be conditionally approved and asked to provide supporting documentation -- such as tax returns and business registration paperwork -- to prove that you meet all of the requirements.
What Services Can the Grant be Applied to?
As part of the program, successful applicants to the program must use one or more local BC service providers to complete their online store. As a BC-based Shopify agency, Good Commerce is standing by to assist with your application. Our comprehensive range of online supports is suitable for businesses at every stage of their development.
The good news is the grant allows recipients to be flexible in their approach to how it’s applied. If the grant is being used toward a service that launches or grows your online presence, it qualifies. Here are some examples of how the grant could be used to grow your E-commerce presence with Good Commerce:
Shopify Website Build: Showcase your brand online with a stunning Shopify website
Search Engine Optimization: Reach the top of Google rankings and widen your sales funnel
Pay Per Click Advertising: Utilize Google and Facebook’s powerful advertising opportunities
Content Creation: Attract customers with content that converts online
Connect With Us Today!
Hurry, grant funds are limited! Connect with us today to discuss how we can help you build your dream e-commerce business!