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Depending who you talk to, September may seem too early to think about Christmas, but as the country heads towards autumn and winter following strict regulations to help control COVID-19, now is the time to make sure that your business is ready for the long winter season ahead.

We have already heard reports about how COVID-19 has changed the way customers shop. As the landscape of the high street was already witnessing a rapid change, there are concerns that strict regulations to help reduce the spread of coronavirus could be the death knell of the high street as we know it. Those who depend entirely on a brick and mortar store may have found reduced opening hours and customer number restrictions have forced them into a corner with plummeting profits and the constant threat of redundancy. To these businesses, the message seems to be loud and clear, customers are moving online to shop to stay safe. If you are not already online, then the time is now!

For those who have an online presence, they may have found that over the past 6 months they have received more engagement and orders via their website. With this in mind, businesses should begin to consider how they will approach Christmas from behind a screen. While it may seem ludicrous to consider talking about Christmas in September, preparation now could help to ensure that you maintain your customer base over the winter months, while keeping in line with the current restrictions. For many businesses, it is normal to have considered your Christmas stock and how this will be displayed in your shop by this point, complete with Christmas decorations and a Christmas classics CD playing through the stereo and this can really help to instil the Christmas spirit into your customers. Unfortunately this year, it seems likely that shoppers will continue to shun shops in favour of ordering online. To keep your customers willing, your business needs to shine online as well as instore. If you already have your instore plan ready, it may be time to think of your online store and how you can market this to your current customer base.

A simple seasonal redesign can be a great way to display your Christmas products over the holidays, and with the WebBoss system, this can be an easy switch back to your original design. If money is tight, you can always use the built-in template tag to add some animated snow to your website completely for free!

On top of a redesign, you can even select if you would like your shop products to be purchasable online, or to be displayed as a catalogue to help drive customers to your physical store. You can even offer gift vouchers or discount vouchers to customers if they sign up to a newsletter! You can even still offer your usual gift wrapping service, (to many this is a lifesaver at Christmas), at your pricing or for free!

With a range of different delivery options to suit every business, an online shop could provide you with the flexibility to meet all your customer needs, without increasing your workload. Your delivery area can be customised to a few miles around your business, (perfect for greengrocers, butchers and bakers), to the whole of the UK, Europe, or even worldwide. The choice is all yours! We are happy to announce that soon our online shop can even offer a click and collect option for your customers, to make the last-minute rush even easier!

Once your customers have signed up for a newsletter you can keep them up to date on your latest products, special opening times, or even secret offers available only to subscribers! WebBoss has a newsletter creator within the system that will allow you to contact your subscribers and is completely GDPR compliant, meaning you have one less thing to worry about in the run-up to the big day.

Of course, let's not forget that Christmas is the season of giving, and so if you are a charity, church, or not for profit organisation you can even accept donations via your website. If you already have an online payment gateway for your shop, there is no need to use a third-party website to collect your donations. With WebBoss, not only do we not charge for any donations that go through your website, but our system even provides all the relevant paperwork you need to claim GiftAid on any donations.

So as the seasons begin to change, and the weather gets colder it is important to make sure that you have a plan in place as the year begins to draw to an end. At the beginning of the year, an online presence was recommended for all business, but by the end of this extraordinarily eventful year, it could be that a website is essential. Regardless of if you already have a website, need a redesign, or want to get started, contact us today to see how we can help get you ready in time for Christmas!

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