Five British businesses thriving online

January 20, 2014 9:48 am The UK Domain

From sweets and plumbing equipment to tea and rooms for rent, here’s how five British businesses are using their websites to showcase their brands online

The growing trend of traditional sweet shops inspired Vanessa Clark’s award winning high street venture ‘Sweetie Pie’. Soon after she decided to expand her business online with The website was such a success she closed the high street shop to focus all her attentions online. allows Vanessa to respond to and showcase exactly what her customers are looking for:

“While I used to sell hundreds of types of sweets in my shop, I saw even more opportunity to develop my range online, and closing the shop has given me much more time to focus on the website, starting with a relaunch.

“There’s been a real rise in popularity for using quirky and personalised gifts for both wedding favours and business marketing, so this is one of the key areas I emphasise on the website. The plan is to make it even bigger and better by making the shopping process even simpler for customers.

“Customer reviews and feedback I receive via email and social media play a pivotal role in continuing to improve and evolve the website”, says Vanessa.

Peter Clayton’s business evolved from a combination of his family’s wealth of experience in the plumbing industry and his own studies in ecommerce. Peter’s website is the backbone of his business and his is essential in helping to show that the company is a trusted trader.

“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 online visitor – whether they’re a trade customer or a do-it-themselves consumer.

“My social media channels, blog and newsletters help demonstrate the expertise of myself and my family and ensure that we deliver the best possible customer service. Visitors to the site can also live chat with our advisors whilst browsing, and can be confident they’re getting trusted, real time advice about our products from knowledgeable staff”, says Peter.

East London based art charity Rich Mix use their website and online marketing activity to bring in extra revenue and support for their community work:

“Rich Mix is all about appealing to diverse communities and offering them a place to experience art, so it’s vital that the sense of community is prevalent both offline and online. Our website is the hub of our digital community, where visitors can find out more about our programmes, facilities such as our coffee shop and buy our cinema tickets online.

“Not only is this really helpful for our users, but the booking data we get when we process orders is instrumental in helping us learn more about our audience, and tailor our outreach through social media, dynamic website content and online marketing”, says Marketing and Media Manager, Beth O’Connor.

What started as an online notice board listing rooms for rent became, the UK’s busiest flat share website. Targeted Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and mobile apps are just a few of the ways the business maximises the website’s full potential and reaches out to its millions of monthly visitors.

“ was the brainchild of my friend Rupert Hunt, born out of our own personal story as two flatmates, struggling to find somewhere to live. Understanding the problems and the stress of flat hunting first hand, it’s implicit that we treat all of our customers individually and understand their unique story too – hard to do with more than 1 million unique visitors a month some might say!

We pride ourselves in understanding what our customer want, not just from a property, but from their entire user experience whenever, and wherever they are. Being able to connect to our users on the go, using our free mobile app plays a big part of this,” says Matt Hutchinson, Communications Director.

Tregothnan’s website has grown from a part-time job created by Jonathan Jones to a successful company selling English grown tea, flowers and gifts all over the world, even China!

“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”, says Jonathan.

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