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After the massive success of the 2014 competition, The Irish Times recently launched the 2015 Best Shops in Ireland competition. The competition is going from strength to strength and it’s now entering its fourth year. Last year the organisers received over 27,000 nominations for 2,700 shops f

rom across the island of Ireland.

A significant development this year is the announcement that the competition is being sponsored by Clover, an AIB Merchant Services product. As it so happens Big Red Cloud and Clover also made a significant development this year with the announcement that our online accounts solution and Clover’s EPOS system are now integrated. This is great news for retailers as it dramatically cuts down on paper work and enables you to record all credit sales and immediately raise and email invoices.

As we said, over 27,000 people voted in 2014 and the winner’s list is testament to the high standards in the retail sector in Ireland. A challenge for any retailer reading this is to visit any of the 2014 winner’s list below and benchmark your retail business. There is no better way to gauge what you need to do to raise your own standards so that you place your retail business on the best possible footing.

Best Shops 2014

Best Boutique: Juju, Greystones
Best Specialist Shop: The Pen Corner
Best service: 64 Wine
Best bookshop: Bridge Street Books, Wicklow
Best artisan food/greengrocer: Ardkeen Quality Food Store
Best cafe/teashop: The Cottage, Loughmore
Best gifts/ design/ interiors: Article Dublin
Best shop window: The Garden
Best salon: Dylan Bradshaw
Best day out: The Burren Perfumery

Should you promote the Best Shops in Ireland competition via your retail outlet? Yes!!

  • It’s a great way to engage with your customers.
  • You’ll begin to make changes to how you run your business – that’s the natural process of engaging with your customers and listening to them.
  • Creates a buzz.
  • Imagine the publicity if you win.

Speaking from experience, here at Big Red Cloud we went through all the emotions during the Bank of Ireland Sponsor for a Day campaign. We entered the competition and then were shortlisted which in itself was a great shot in the arm for the business. Winning was a great triumph and there is no doubt that the work we did with our customers played a huge part in getting it across the line.

Winning the 2015 Best Shops in Ireland competition may be a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) for some but it can be done. Let’s go!!

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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