The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do business for ever. Over the past weeks and months, HABIC has received enquiries from multiple salons and hairdressers about setting up online product sales for their businesses in these difficult times as they combat lost revenues and refine their business model. We recommend to them all that they contact their Local Enterprise Office and find out more about the Trading On-Line Voucher (TOV).
What is the Trading On-Line Voucher?
Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from the business*.
On 8th June 2020: Ministers Humphreys and Bruton expanded the trading online scheme by €14.2m as part of the government’s ongoing COVID-19 response.
- Supports of up to €5,000 available to help SMEs get online
- Unprecedented demand for Scheme since COVID-19 with 3 years’ worth of applications received in just 3 months
- Total Budget for Trading Online Scheme now increased by almost 1000% from €2m to €20m
Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices, and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.
*For applications received from April 7th 2020 until September 30th 2020. Further eligibility, terms and conditions apply.
The Trading Online Voucher was included in proposal to deliver Business Supports for SMEs. The Minister’s announcement in regard to the Online Trading Vouchers will support salons, barbers and spas nationally to take their business online, or to extend a current website to include a retail element, booking software etc. This is a welcome measure and will support salons to diversify and allows organisations to develop a sustainable retail shop now and into the future.
The online trading voucher of €2,500 will now be funded by 90% with businesses co-funding 10% of the cost (previous vouchers were match funded at a rate of 50%). In order to apply for the Online Trading Voucher, you will need to Find and Email Your Local Enterprise Office. It should also be noted that if you have previously received funding for a online trading voucher, you can now apply for a second voucher.
HABIC Top Tips;
- The funding for the LEO Online Trading Vouchers while substantia is limited so our advice would not to hang around on this scheme, if you need a website developed then get emailing your local LEO as a matter of urgency. Don’t wait around.
- Before you apply for the voucher be clear on what you will use the website for (bookings, general information, retail sales, etc)
- If you are approved and get the green light, take time to think about how you want your website to be like and how you would like it to function.
- Think about the content you want to add, now and into the future, future proofing your website now will help you in the long run.
- Also before you move ahead with a website, it is also really important to look at your branding and to be happy with this.
- Finally choose your website developer very carefully, you will need to have a good relationship with this person.
Shipping & Delivery.
Organising the shipping and delivery of these items can often be a sticking point for many. We’ve looked at the best shipping and delivery options for Irish businesses during COVID-19 – and what you need to do to minimise both costs and hassle!
Think Domestic – Ship within Ireland!
Our first note is that you should try to limit your package shipping to Ireland for the time being! This is for two reasons:
- An Post has temporarily suspended parcel shipping to many countries – including the U.S.
- The types of products you are most likely shipping (aerosols, creams, gels, solutions and cosmetics) are on the An Post prohibited list for shipping overseas anyway! The full list of prohibited items is available here: https://www.anpost.com/Prohibited-Items
What if I Don’t Have any Parcels to Post my Products in?
Many salons re-use the parcels from the products that come in weekly – and we naturally recommend that from an environmentally-friendly point of view! However, if you need to stock up on some parcel / packing boxes, we have two recommendations:
- HuntOffice.ie – A large selection of cardboard packing boxes from a renowned name: https://www.huntoffice.ie/packing-boxes.html
- CardboardBoxes.ie – A smaller company but there are bargains here – especially if you also need protective materials to go into the boxes: https://www.cardboardboxes.ie
Shipping in Ireland – What are my Options?
At the end of the day, there are multiple couriers and services out there – but with particular emphasis on small businesses, we’ve boiled it down to the old reliable An Post – and the increasingly popular DPD Ireland. The good news is that both services are running as normal in Ireland at the moment.
However, in the current climate – if you use An Post, you will have to go to your local post office, shop, or drop-off point in order to send your items. They don’t currently offer a door-to-door collection and delivery service – something DPD are still providing.
An Post: Parcel Solutions for Small Businesses.
This service is ideal for small businesses with an online shop / eBay-style sellers. It has been designed for those looking for flexible, cost-effective parcel solutions.
An Post offer a range of dedicated services to help you grow your business including:
- Parcel delivery and returns solutions using a nationwide network of over 900 post offices.
- Solutions to make posting easier.
- Advice and information to support your business.
- Parcel delivery and collection services including Standard and Express Post.
- Advantage Card, which lets you avail of discounts of up to 25% on Express Post deliveries to Ireland and the UK if you send five or more packets or parcels a week.
- Returns solutions such as ReturnPal and ReturnMyShopping.
- Prepaid packaging to make posting easier.
- Self-service tools which allow you to manage your post in-house, saving time and improving efficiency (DeliveryBox).
- Direct mail marketing solutions like Publicity Post and Admailer.ie
An Post Costs:
The price charged by An Post depends on the weight / size of item you post. Parcels up to 5kg generally cost €9 to post anywhere in Ireland. Anything above 5kg will be over €10. Here’s a handy calculator for An Post Packages: https://www.anpost.com/Post-Parcels/Sending/Calculate-Postage.
Please note, you will have to bring your packages to your local post office for this service. Naturally, all post offices have strict distancing guidelines in place – and as of March 31st, these 4 post offices are temporarily closed:
- North Strand, Dublin 1
- Dorset Street, Dublin 3
- Belfield, Dublin 4
- Toomevara, Co. Tipperary
DPD Offer “Contactless Delivery” during COVID-19 and Door-to-Door Service:
In the current climate, members might prefer a contactless service where you don’t have to leave your home to despatch orders. As of March 31st DPD Ireland are still offering this service. Go to DPD.ie and create an account if you don’t already have one. One of their couriers will pick up your parcel(s) from your home or office, and drop it anywhere in Ireland with next day delivery.
This is a little pricier than An Post on average, but the added issue of going to the post office right now may leave a door-to-door service as a much more desirable option. Check out the DPD Costings here with their handy price calculator: https://shipping.dpd.ie/quick-quote.
DPD COVID-19 Policies:
Naturally, DPD have put in place changes for collection and delivery of products during COVID-19. You will be familiar with “signing for” packages using the driver’s scanner instrument. This is being waived at the moment. The driver leaves the package at the door and waits to see the recipient collect it – and inputs a special C19 code into the scanner to complete the delivery. This means you don’t have to have any direct contact with delivery drivers.
For full DPD Coronavirus updates, go to: https://dpd.ie/DPD-Ireland-Corona-Virus-Updates.
We wish you the best in your online selling and shipping during these tricky times for salons and businesses across Ireland. Get in touch with us at email@example.com or call us on 071 9615200 if you have any further questions. Stay safe!