So we thought it would be a good idea to sell Christmas hampers this year on line. The logic being - we sold out of our sheep’s milk chocolates, soap and fudge last year, people loved the fact they could get a unique gift and support several artisan producers at the same time.  So this year, wouldn’t luxury hampers with sheep’s milk related items that we know are really popular, be a fab idea?  It’s a no brainer, right? Wrong!  God bless my naivety.

There are some parts of this process that have been wonderful.  We are delighted with the selection we have come up with,  thrilled with how beautiful the photos are (thank you Maria), loving the testing of samples ( yum yum) ! But what is bringing me to tears this week, is the selection of the necessary “App”. For those of you who are less IT savvy than me (and I know that is not very many of you), to sell this kind of thing online, you have to select an “ App”  (i.e. a piece of software) that is going to talk to your website and allow lots of things happen. The chosen App should  give the customer   ( that’s you lot)  “a seamless, enjoyable shopping experience”  The decision should  ot be taken lightly, the various choices cost money, and have differing features and pricing plans. But what I didn’t realise was -that  when making this decision you have to decide what exactly this App needs to do, and deciding what it needs to do, means you have to be some sort of futuristic mind reader. You have to be able to predict every eventuality and desire you lot will have!! Hence my tears.

A few things I do know. We need to have a pre-ordering option, this is important because it will give us some hope of planning how many hampers we need to pack and by when.  Pre ordering will hopefully mean we won’t sell out too early, and we will be able to order more boxes in time if necessary.  But will you want to book a particular dispatch day or maybe several dates at various times in November and December?  Perhaps you will want to send the same hamper to different recipients each at a different address? Maybe you would like to write a hand written personalised note? Maybe a few different handwritten notes to different recipients? Then some of you will want to order and have your hampers  arrive straight away, some will wish to wait and have them dispatched a week or so before Xmas.  What about shipping? How do we select an app that allows us to charge appropriate shipping on hampers, but not penalise our regular yogurt supporters and charge them too much shipping? What about the locals? Some people in and around Claremorris will want to collect, will we find an app that will enable them to book a collection rather than a dispatch? And then there is VAT,  some items in our hampers are not vatable others are. According to revenue “Under the current rules each of the differently rated elements is taxed as an individual supply at the rate appropriate to it. The consideration must be apportioned to reflect the taxable amount applicable to each VAT rate” whatever that even means?  I wonder with the “App” cope with that!!

So as I wipe away my tears I am delegating - Mary is going to help me with VAT, Mark is going to sort out the App. And when finally with great fan fare, I will announce our Christmas selection (hopefully next week), you will have had some idea of why right now I feel like Scrooge …bah humbug.

Aisling Flanagan