On Wednesday, February 3 the Government of BC announced that it is investing $12 million to help over 1,500 small and medium businesses launch or upgrade an online store, and provide the platform they need to increase sales and revenues and become more competitive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive changes in consumer behaviour. In 2019, pre-pandemic, e-commerce sales in Canada totalled over $305 billion; projections estimate that e-commerce sales doubled through 2020, and and are expected to increase further in 2021.
“Businesses need access to the tools and supports that will help them adapt and pivot during this uniquely challenging time,” said Ravi Kahlon, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This program will provide business owners with the ability to expand their online presence and create a customized e-commerce site that will give them the boost they need to keep moving forward.”
The grants provide small and medium business owners in hard-hit areas such as tourism, retail, and restaurants, with up to $7,500 to build or improve their online presence.
The grants can be used for a variety of online-related expenses, such as subscription costs for e-commerce platforms (Shopify, WordPress / WooCommerce, etc.), online inventory systems, Google and Facebook advertising, photography, and staff training to manage the website.
Grant applications are being accepted now, with funding awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will close once the funding has been fully subscribed.
Successful grant applicants must use BC service providers – such as iContext Internet, a Vancouver-area firm offering complete web strategy, website and web application development, content marketing, Internet advertising, and social media services – to develop their online store.
The Launch Online grant program is part of BC’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan – a strategy that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.
BC-based small- and medium-sized businesses are encouraged to apply online as quickly as possible at www.launchonline.ca.