Meanwhile, events firm Chillisauce has achieved remarkable growth since being founded at the turn of the millennium, with founder and CEO James Baddiley alleging the use of technology had brought together suppliers and made the customer experience more memorable. “We optimise our digital communications in order to engage with existing and new customers,” he said. “The goal is to share our ideas, products and what we stand for whilst building a community to connect with. Having a strong presence online is also very important to us, so we focus on SEO and ways to improve our site visibility. Online reviews are also a great asset. Your happy customers can share their great experiences with others and help you acquire new leads.” But things haven’t always been easy. “When a business is growing fast, scaling it can be challenging,” Baddiley explained. Check out the video below to further view how a digital approach has been a real boost to the business.
Likewise, The Counter – a small coffee chain that’s tripled the size of its business in just 15 months through innovative thinking that includes setting up in police boxes – cited how technology was vital in creating a seamless service. Co-founder Alastair MacFarlane told Real Business that working from police boxes meant encountering problems such as setting up WiFi and having the right electrical supplies. He said: “Opening a conventional coffee shop would have been easy. We’ve done things a bit differently and we are all the better for it. However, when you see a traditional business in an unusual setting, people automatically expect you to be behind with the times and not be up to date with the latest technology. That certainly isn’t the case with us and we have truly recognised its importance. “Being up to date with technology gives us a certain professionalism that customers don’t expect from a police box coffee shop. At the beginning we struggled to find an affordable option that would enable us to accept card payments. After lots of searching, we found mobile payments system iZettle – which has made life far easier for our customers and helped create a service that competes with the best. Not only has it made our lives easier, it has also made our business look more professional especially in such a crowded space.”
For luxury shoe firm Augustus Pili founder Jalil Rahman, digital means were incorporated to help boost its mission: “I founded the company with a strong sense that although the perception of Britain as a heritage society remains, we take for granted the things that earned us that reputation. Creatively, I see Augustus Pili as the reincarnation of the English men’s shoe. If tradition needs renewal to keep it relevant, I believe we will have the authority to challenge it to inspire rather than define what a shoe can be.” As such, the single most important aspect of building the brand has been engaging with customers. He said: “We are building digital into the DNA of the brand from the very first sale. I’m very excited by what going digital on an ‘old world’ industry will allow us to do. It’s already seen us use digital platforms such as Facebook to provide a true level playing field when it comes to global engagement and potential for conversions. I have also been able to take international orders from markets as far afield as Kuwait and Angola via Facebook Messenger.” However, manufacturing luxury goods in the UK comes with a very expensive price, he said. Essentially, commercialising products has become more challenging given that there are other markets which are willing to pay a fraction of the price that most British firms charge. See the below video for more insight into the unique challenges a luxury shoe firm faces.
Social media has been a large part of many a firm’s strategies, and confectionery brand Mallow & Marsh is no different. Founded in late 2013 to bring quality and innovation to the category, chief whisk Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie explained that every obstacle was a challenge to overcome and learn from. “Over the past two years, we’ve hit every kind of problem – cash flow, lack of resources, the summer of ‘mushy mallows’ as I call it, which is when I realised for the first time that marshmallows melt like chocolate in heatwaves. And part of the steep learning curve was how key social media was in growing a business. It is the one way we can talk to our customers, get honest feedback and tell them what we are up to. “I have also found systems like cloud accounting, cloud storage and business apps invaluable. They’ve helped me to grow organically and enabled us to work on a professional level but without being huge and cumbersome. I even use WhatsApp as the base of my board communication. It’s great. “But one of the biggest hurdles for us is stock management, distribution and supply chain. Managing what is where, when and where it’s going is very difficult. We have a short shelf-life so we need to react very quickly. Through a variety of new systems, and crisp communication we have been able to set up processes that mean we now know exactly where everything is. We have a new barcode warehouse technology so we can track cases and have instant visibility on what is going on.” Read more about the Dutch sisters building a British beverage brand and the hospitality firm that gained praise from Airbnb. By Shané Schutte
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