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New BC government grants help businesses launch online

Man in striped button up working on laptop

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes to how we live our lives, one of the largest changes to the world of business is the increase in e-commerce. 

When many businesses had to close their brick-and-mortar locations, at least temporarily, or reduce the number of customers allowed inside, many had to get online operations up and running to stay afloat.

Late last year, Michael LeBlanc, senior advisor with the Retail Council of Canada, told CBC News that the acceleration of e-commerce that occurred as a result of the pandemic has advanced the trend of online shopping, especially in the grocery store business, by as much as seven years.

Online shopping accounted for $305 billion in e-commerce sales in Canada in 2019; that number is expected to have doubled through 2020 and increase even further in 2021.

The Government of British Columbia recently created the new Launch Online Grant program, which aims to help small and medium-sized businesses adapt to consumer behaviour changes and market their products online.

“Businesses need access to the tools and supports that will help them adapt and pivot during this uniquely challenging time,” Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said in a news release

The BC government is committed to investing $12 million to help businesses launch or upgrade an online store that will provide they need to increase their sales revenues and become more competitive.

The government grants will provide business owners with up to $7,500 to build or improve and promote their online store.

“We launched an online shop within 48 hours after the lockdown,” said David Nicholls, general manager at Vancouver Island Brewing. “While we were happy to get it off the ground, we soon realized that the online store could not meet all of our needs and the uniqueness of shipping beer.”

Nicholls added that the brewery plans to use the grant funding to enhance its website.

Grant recipients can use the funding to cover online-related expenses, including pictures, creating an online inventory system, advertising costs, subscription costs of an e-commerce platform and training staff in website management.

The program will run until March 31, 2021, or until all the funds are distributed.

For more information and the full eligibility criteria, visit launchonline.ca.

 

Published on Feb. 10, 2021.