What does your company do and what is your USP?
We grow retailers online via our award-winning eCommerce platform and digital marketing services. Our enterprise level platform offers everything a retailer needs to run their online business while our marketing teams help drive sales and increase customer numbers through the use of SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing, affiliate marketing and conversion rate optimisation.
Our USP is the “shared success” model. Rather than charging big upfront project fees like other agencies, we charge you a small fee per successful transaction.
This aligns us with the successes (and pains!) of the retailer and makes us more accountable, helping to drive growth.
How would you describe your vision?
Our vision is to be at the forefront of the UK ecommerce industry. We see so many UK retailers using providers outside of the UK. We want to bring the country’s retail technology sector to the front of people’s minds and believe there is nowhere better than the UK when it comes to quality.
What type of company do you work with?
We thrive in the space slightly above the entry-level software-as-a-service providers.
We’re 100% ecommerce focussed, and the retailers we work with best are ambitious and serious about growing their business online. Alongside B2B and B2C retailers, we also have an ever-growing number of brands looking to drive direct sales.
Our customers are varied but our main sectors are fashion and footwear, sports and outdoors, jewellery and furniture. Some of our key clients are TJ Hughes, BigDug, Jacobson Group, Blue Inc, and Pentland Brands.
How would you describe your growth, what have been the main points in your expansion and what has been key to your success?
I’d describe it as steady and consistent. We actually predate Google and remember doing SEO before it was a thing. We’ve seen so many agencies come and go over the years, but through innovation and working hard we’ve managed to stay ahead of the game. A client told me last week that they saw Visualsoft as a ‘great hidden secret’ as we have seen huge growth but are not yet a household name.
The majority of our work comes from recommendation and the success we achieve for our clients. Every great website we launch, award we win, or client we get top of a search engine, in turn, gets us exposure. So we know if we get our clients exposure, so will we.
What do you see as challenges for the retail industry over the coming year?
The uncertainty of Brexit aside, I think the main challenges for retailers over the coming year are going to be fast-paced evolving technology and the challenge of keeping up with it. This is a huge opportunity for those who embrace change and stay ahead of the curve but many online retailers are far too late to adapt to the changing landscape.
Some are only just getting their head around responsive websites and by the time the latecomers get there the technology will have moved on to PWA and AMP. Younger shoppers are unforgiving about site speed and with lots of choice not as loyal as the offline customers of old.
Security should also be a concern for retailers – yet while larger retailers know to choose PCI Level 1 Compliant Providers and have invested in becoming GDPR compliant, we find many small to medium retailers ignore the warnings.
What do you see as the challenges for suppliers and technology providers?
They face ever-moving goalposts as the technology is so fast-paced. It’s crucial there’s a constant investment in R&D and strategies are collaborative with key stakeholders within the industry such as Google, eBay, Amazon etc. who are constantly evolving.
How are you prepared to meet those challenges?
We invest heavily in R&D and alongside our internal and client driven roadmap we have strong partnerships with Google, eBay, Amazon. We work closely with them to ensure the things we’re developing for the future of our business are in sync.
We focus on emerging technologies where we can demonstrate value as opposed to future-gazing projects. For example, we are looking at an AI personal shopping assistant which will combine deep customer profiling with known external factors such as weather and location, to provide tailored product recommendations.
What are your future plans?
Further growth and investment in people. Our CEO Dean Benson’s motto is happy staff equals happy clients. Following the expansion of our Manchester office, we’re currently in the process of moving our Newcastle team into larger premises and renovating our Teesside HQ to introduce some more exciting areas for staff and clients to enjoy.
Give us your one line elevator pitch.
We grow retailers online.
CUSTOMER CASE STUDY
Family-run retailer Charles Clinkard has devoted over 90 years to offering the finest footwear to its customers. The business now has 32 stores across the UK and many awards to its name including Multiple Footwear Retailer of the year on more than one occasion.
The client’s main goal was to drive traffic and revenue through their online store to complement the huge success they have through their bricks and mortar stores. A key objective was to make sure all the marketing channels used enhanced personalisation, and targeting for better engagement with customers, making the benefits and offers of shopping with Charles Clinkard online relevant and clear.
In order to drive greater traffic and revenue through the online store, Visualsoft worked alongside the client to deliver an integrated marketing strategy, utilising all its in‑house marketing departments to create themed content and improved personalisation through targeting, something that was important to the client.
Offers and campaigns were created and executed across channels, using the same key messages, targeted to identify audience groups through social media advertising, paid search, remarketing and email segmentation.
Results have really stepped up for Clinkards, with a 27% increase in new users from organic, 97% increase in traffic from social and 348% increase in order value via affiliates.
“The results we’ve seen since implementing a 360 marketing approach via Visualsoft’s Shared Success Enterprise+ service have more than exceeded our expectations,” said Rachel Clinkard, ecommerce director, Charles Clinkard. “The Visualsoft team have been very understanding of our individual business requirements and worked hard to provide a strategy that is ideal for us.”
VisualSoft IN BRIEF
Date launched: 1998
Office locations: Teesside, Newcastle, Manchester
Date launched in the UK: 1998
Number of customers: 1000+ customers including TJ Hughes, Blue Inc, Jules B, Gola, Charles Clinkard, BigDug, Kickers, Canterbury, Mitre, Daniel Footwear, Moda in Pelle, Sik Silk, 11 Degrees, Little Mistress, Andrew James
Number of employees: 250+
Number of partners: 30+
This Company Spotlight was produced by InternetRetailing and sponsored by VisualSoft. Funding articles in this way allows us to explore topics and present relevant services and information that we believe our readers will find of interest.