Usually this time of year while the shops are all about the festive season, the shopping frenzy that is Black Friday is getting underway and the first of the Christmas trees in private homes are just about starting to appear. This year, like everything else in 2020 it’s all quite different to what we expect. Many of our retail outlets are closed with restrictions on what can be sold in those who can open because they’re providing what are considered to be essential products or services and in private homes many are fully decorated since Halloween passed in anticipation of marking the end of a strange year with some badly needed festive cheer.

2020 is the year that how we live changed forever. Online stores have been around for a long time but this year for many they became a necessity as opposed to just an option for shopping even if for many of us it’s second to the experience of some retail therapy in the form a day out in your favourite city or shopping centre.

The changes have brought a whole range of challenges but they’ve also brought opportunities and in this post we’re covering some tips for business that will help you take advantage of the weeks ahead to help you finish the year as positively as possible..

Get The Decorations Up – if you’re in a retail unit you’ve probably already got this in place since the beginning of November. If however you’re trading from a location that isn’t public whether that’s a warehouse or a spare bedroom, pop up a few decorations and share some snaps or get your festivate banners in place on social media. Every other sale you pick up for birthdays or other events is of course important but show that you’re embracing the festive spirit even if like many it feels a little early for you.

Special Offers – as the world has moved online, opportunities to purchase from across the world have become more apparent to many too but never let that stop you getting your prices and special offers out into the public. Sometimes you won’t have a choice in terms of the shops your clients choose, if it’s a branded toy or bike for example that a child wants there may be specific sites only that can be used. However, this year more so than ever before there is super support for shopping locally and keeping money in the country. We loved this bumper list of Irish businesses you can purchase from this year, updated by the Irish Times on 15th November it covers 400 Irish businesses you can shop at for Christmas!! One thing to be mindful of is that if you’re going to offer a special offer make sure it’s a genuine offer, if it’s 10% off let that be 10% off the regular price because many businesses have been challenged on price and whether offers are genuine and really in the midst of your Christmas trading hours you don’t want the stress of dealing with a challenge like this particularly if the person who queries it is on social media!

Network – explore groups online that will allow you showcase your business for Christmas. Shop In Ireland on Facebook is one group that’s sprung up this year, currently boasting 175k members it’s a mix of sellers and buyers and you will be delighted with the choice on offer. If you aren’t a regular networker on social media you might not realise that there are many business groups on the various channels, some of these have promotional opportunities or posts too and one that we suggest is WhatsWhat.ie who have a vibrant online community on Facebook and are currently offering members of their community the option to promote your Christmas posts on dedicated days too.

Black Friday – whether you’re a shopper or a seller you’ll already be aware offers are underway and while it’s been a prime date for sales for several years now, given that shops here in Ireland are in the main closed until early December and people are aware that a time needs to be allowed for delivery this is the weekend you really need to get yourself noticed! Get some graphics together, have your offers in place and have the team on standby as this is a time many will be scrolling through their phone with credit card on hand ready to shop so you should do all you can to reach them.

Cyber Monday – this is a continuation of the Black Friday event which has now evolved into several days or in some cases a month with many Black Friday offers already available, Cyber Monday was for many years a date the web got its share of business from those who were all shopped out with retailers. This year however, the rules changed and for so many most of their shopping now takes place online. It’s not getting the same coverage as in recent years but there are opportunities for web exclusive special offers or for those who don’t hit their peak business season over the festive season this could very well be a chance to target people with products or services for the new year!.

Use Your Email List – email marketing has grown since the pandemic hit, there are an estimated 3.9 million daily email users and it’s thought that every $1 spent generates $38 in revenue (check this post for some more amazing email facts!) so if you have a list you should be using it. Educate your clients on your offering, inform them of your specials but make sure it’s a legitimately sourced list and that you have permission to email them.

Explore New Opportunities – Christmas markets won’t be happening offline this year but there are options such as The Big Virtual Christmas Market Ireland on Facebook which has a considerable number of buyers as well as sellers. Many business and community organisations have also put groups or pages in place that their members or local residents can take part in so get out there and talk to friends, family, neighbours and do a bit of search on social media to find options near you. And remember, when you’re trading online your customers can be anywhere in the world but ensure you’re good for delivery dates, customs, etc if you’re venturing further afield than usual.

Facebook / Instagram ads – these are a wonderful opportunity for business and while there are lots of options available in in terms of choosing your audience or re-targetting people who have already engaged with your site or account, when time is tight and you just want to reach people quickly there’s a boost button below your post that makes running ads very simple. You generally won’t get as good value if you use this option which is why the better option for the long term is Facebook Ads Manager but sometimes you just need to get an ad out quickly and this will do the job.

Social Media Real Estate – cover photos on your various accounts can be updated to reflect offers, new products, opening hours or even simply your festive greetings. Make sure to use them, if you don’t have the skills to come up with a graphic your own photos will be more than enough!

Christmas Graphics – having branded graphics or video that your clients have come to recognise can make a significant difference to your online audience, if you’re going this route we advise getting them ready at the earliest possible date so that you’re not sitting over a computer in the midst of a busy day trying to be creative.

A Plan For Posting – something that happens frequently, particularly when there isn’t one designated member of the team to take care of social media, is that the posts are thought of last thing in the day. For many businesses their audience will be online late in the evening but I know I’m not the only one who sees posts appear late at night when you just sense that the business owner has finally got a few minutes free to update on their offers even if it is bedtime for many? Pick one member (or more if you’re exceptionally busy online) to take care of social media even if it isn’t part of their normal job. You want to ensure somebody is dealing with customer requests or if it happens complaints effectively and efficiently.

Update Your Website / Trading Hours / Delivery Dates – more than ever in 2020 people are paying attention to their website. That said, if you updated your site when we went into lockdown or because you secured a Trading Online Voucher be mindful that at the time you added details such as your opening hours or terms and conditions that these may have been based around normal trading times. Review any details that are relevant to how you trade or ship products in the run-up to Christmas ensuring details such as last date for posting are taken into account. If you won’t have customer support available for a period over the festive season it’s equally important that people are aware of this, this also applies to people who are selling online and might simply be closed for the holiday season. Generally we would recommend a dedicated blog post which can encompass a Christmas greeting for the last days of pre-Christmas trading because even if you’re off work for a couple of weeks there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll still have visitors to your website.

Holiday Greeting – I mentioned this in the previous post also and whether you’re at the height of your busy season, closing down for a couple of weeks break or in the unfortunate position that you cannot open due to restrictions pop up a greeting to thank your customers for their support during the year and to wish them well as we head into 2021. Whether that’s a video from an owner or somebody on the team, a graphic or just a simple few words of text while not everybody is enthusiastic about Christmas 2020 it’s a date that more than ever many are glad to see.

This year more than ever, everything is very different, a little organisation can make the world of difference in how you finish up your 2020 in business.

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