e-commerce grants to boost retail recovery

The National Retail Association (NRA) is calling for a $6,000 e-commerce assistance package for every small business hurting financially as a result of COVID-19 to help them sell goods and services online, to be included as part of the JobMaker Digital Business Plan announced last Tuesday by the Morrison Government.

The Morrison Government is investing almost $800 million to enable businesses to take advantage of digital technologies to grow their businesses and create jobs as part of tis economic recovery plan. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by Australian businesses and consumers, which has enabled many to transform their operations and continue to trade through the crisis.

Buoyed by Australia Post statistics that online shopping is booming during the pandemic – with August 2020 being labelled the biggest month in Australian e-commerce history – the NRA believes that now is the time for small enterprises to sort out their digital offering.

NRA Deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll told 9News.com.au that the package could come in the form of a loan or even reduced taxable income for small and medium businesses.

“This package would be to help small business either accelerate their digital transformation or elevate their existing online presence,” Ms Carroll said.

“We need more a targeted and solution-based focus for small businesses who are trying to recover from not only COVID but the onslaught of bushfires and drought.

“They could use the $6,000 assistance package to upskill or fill digital skills gaps, or it could go towards creating a social media page or transitioning into e-commerce with an online store.”

Not only would the digitisation trend enable rural and regional business owners to connect with customers around the country, it would cause a secondary boom in the digital learning and e-commerce market. As a digital advisory service for the Australian Government’s Small Business Digital Champions project, the NRA has already been working to secure this learning for its members. We have recently partnered with netStripes to provide the tools for digital success, in addition to our partnerships with nbn Co and Aussie Broadband.

Additional elements of the $800 million Digital Business Plan include:

  • $256.6 million to develop a Digital Identity system to enable more secure and convenient engagement with government services, and in future, the private sector. Digital identity is already being used by over 1.6 million Australians and 1.16 million businesses to access over 70 government services.
  • A further $419.9 million to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, allowing businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location;
  • A further $28.5 million to support the rollout of the Consumer Data Right to the banking and energy sectors, which is in addition to the more than $120 million already committed;
  • $29.2 million to accelerate the rollout of 5G, including an initiative to invest in 5G commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.
  • $22.2 million to support small business operators take advantage of digital technologies through an expansion of the Australian Small Business Advisory Service – Digital Solutions program, a Digital Readiness Assessment tool and a Digital Directors training package;
  • $11.4 million for a new regulatory technology commercialisation initiative to improve compliance and directly support our digital technology firms;
  • $9.6 million to support fintechs to export financial services and attract inward investment;
  • $6.9 million for two blockchain pilots directed at reducing business compliance costs;
  • $5.9 million to boost Australia’s influence on international standards;
  • $3.6 million towards mandating the adoption of electronic invoicing by 1 July 2022 for all Commonwealth government agencies to encourage greater adoption amongst businesses supplying to government and within their supply chains, and to consult on options for mandatory adoption of e-invoicing by businesses;
  • $2.5 million to connect workers and small and medium sized businesses to digital skills training;
  • Consulting on making permanent the temporary reforms to allow companies to hold virtual meetings and execute documents electronically;
  • Reviewing the regulatory architecture applying to the payments system to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is capable of supporting continued innovation for the benefit of both businesses and consumers; and
  • Reforming the regulation around stored-value facilities to support innovation and competition in line with the recommendations of the Council of Financial Regulators.

These initiatives are in addition to the Government’s $4.5 billion NBN investment plan to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses across the economy over the next two years.