Meet the British businesses building their success online

Tregothnan’s website has grown from a part-time job for one person to supporting 18 full-time employees with sales of English grown tea, flowers and gifts. Commercial director Jonathan Jones explains how their international business is rooted in a British brand:

“With some clever thinking, can reach as many customers as the largest supermarkets, and British branding is key. We leverage the Britishness of our traditional estate to create a very personal relationship with a global audience.

“Our Britishness is communicated in lots of details. The way we write, our imagery, the brands we collaborate with and even our domain name is vital in telling our customers this. We want customers to visit our online shop and know they are dealing with a British company in a trusted environment and where they can trace where our products come from.”

The growing trend of traditional sweet shops inspired Vanessa Clark’s award winning high street venture ‘Sweetie Pie’. But it didn’t stop there, her shop and website can respond to and showcase what her customers are looking for:

“While I sell hundreds of types of sweets in my shop, there’s even more opportunity to develop my range online. There’s been a real rise in popularity for using quirky and personalised gifts for both wedding favours and business marketing. And, based on the affection people have for retro sweets, I knew I could take advantage of both of these opportunities for large bulk orders.

“I’ve made sure the corresponding wedding and corporate product ranges on my website are prominent and that the dedicated pages emphasise the service and personalisation available. Spotting areas to develop niche products has helped bring in larger orders and get my business name out there through word of mouth.”

Peter Clayton’s business is a combination of his family’s 20 years in the plumbing industry and his own studies in ecommerce. But online or offline, customers are looking for businesses to demonstrate the same values:

“My customers want excellent service from a business they can trust, as well as great products and good value. It’s what all customers want, and I need to communicate that my business fulfills these values to every visitor – whether they’re a trade customer or a do-it-themselves consumer.

“My social media channels, blog and newsletters help demonstrate the 20 years of expertise myself and my family have, and by having a website I’m helping to show I’m a trusted British business.  One of the ways I’ve pushed this even further is the new live chat box on the site, so visitors can directly ask the customer service team questions while they browse.”

What started as an online notice board listing rooms for rent became, the UK’s busiest flat share website. Matt Hutchinson, communications director for the site, explains how they show they’re keeping up with their monthly visitors, all 1 million of them: 

“Each visitor has a unique story for why they need our website and the more of these stories we understand the better we can make sure the site gives them what they need.  We know half our traffic comes from London so we have localised pages and tools, like displaying rooms by the nearest underground station. We’ve also seen a huge rise in people taking in lodgers, so we ensure we provide a wealth of up-to-date information for first-time landlords.

“Based on our analytics we also know our users want to be able to connect whenever, wherever they want – at home, at work or on their mobiles. Since developing our mobile app last year it’s been the top grossing download in its category more than once, not bad for a free app about flat shares!”

It is not just businesses which are thriving online. Beth O’Connor, marketing and media manager for east London based art charity Rich Mix, shares how concentrating their marketing activity online has brought in extra revenue and support for their community work:

“Our website is vital for us, and we specifically redeveloped it to incorporate more search engine optimisation. We chose because it demonstrates that not only are we a charity and social enterprise which reinvests all of our income back into our local community, but we’re of course based in the UK.

“We need customers who spend money at our cinema and in our coffee shop to know our story and to trust our organisation. Our website, social media channels and blog help us differentiate ourselves and showcase the work we do – and our customers support - in our community.”  


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