“Setting up a business online is hard but it’s only getting harder,” says Scott, who launched her company in April 2000.
“I was the most technologically-unsavvy person when we started out but I fast realised that there was considerable productivity, and therefore profitability, gains to be made by getting to grips with the internet and technology.”
Evidence of that is the time saved by the company’s new online payment and order tracking system. Scott and her employees initially started off by manually downloading the orders off the website and then typing them into the mail order system. “I soon realised that this was totally inefficient,” says Scott. “So we decided to invest in Actinic’s catalogue system for our e-commerce shopping cart which links into Protx’s payment system.”
Protx stores all the customers’ details – such as addresses and card registrations – and carries out all the checks. SlimmingSolutions is then notified as to whether the order was successful or not. “It’s completely cut out all the manual work for us,” explains Scott. “Before, it would take us seven hours to fully process an order but this technology has enabled us to shave two hours off processing each order. And considering we have on average 130 orders every day – that’s a significant time and money saver.”
Actinic and Protx are incorporated with another technology called Mole End, which generates a dispatch email to the customers containing their tracking details so they can track their orders.
Scott also admits she had a lot to learn on the subject of digital marketing and search engine optimisation. “I used to think that having a pretty website was really important – I had a lot to learn! As far as Google is concerned, content is king.”
In order to get to grips with marketing online, Scott enrolled on some courses held by a US company called Planet Ocean. “They seem to be the forerunner in online marketing and they hold several courses throughout the year, so I attended one course in Boston and one in Las Vegas and they were invaluable. We now subscribe to them and they help keep us ahead of the game.”
This subscription enables SlimmingSolutions to download tables from Planet Ocean depicting the latest search engine trends. The tables are then updated every month. The subscription also includes access to articles that outline how best to achieve optimisation given the current trends. “For example, it’s currently advising us to focus on inbound links, whereas before it was advocating reciprocal links. And it seems to have served us quite well in our search engine optimisation strategy.”
SlimmingSolutions also uses online shopping portals to market online such as E-Directory and SHOP.COM. “We’re in the process of setting up affiliate marketing whereby we’ll advertise our products on related companies’ sites. It really is a case of every little bit helps.”
SlimmingSolutions recently won the retail category of the North Tyneside Small Business Awards. “We’re continuing to grow very rapidly and we’ve got some exciting expansion and diversification planned for this year,” concludes Scott.