by Fatema Mulla
The growth of eCommerce stores in the North continues to astound us all - from award winning startups to internationally admired companies, the North of England boasts a thriving hub of eCommerce businesses.
As Shopify Plus experts in Yorkshire, not only do we love to celebrate the successes of eCommerce businesses, but we’re passionate about helping and inspiring as many merchants as possible - so here’s our list of ten high-growth stores; sharing the successes of some of the most prosperous stores in the North.
So who are the biggest and fastest growing eCommerce stores in the North of the UK - and what can you learn from their successes? Here are 10 we think you can learn something from.
Weird Ape - Halifax
Born from a simple problem that founder Stefan had when searching for a watch, Weird Ape have quickly become a truly successful and innovative company - with a fresh thinking approach to marketing that has lead to them being dubbed as a “new-age business” by Forbes.
Weird Ape have adopted a streamlined marketing approach in order to promote and sell their products - successfully carrying out targeted competitions on social media and using stunning imagery to attract attention to the company and its products. This has helped them curate an impressive follower count of almost 180k fans on Facebook, with 51k followers on their Instagram.
Weird Ape have also been successful in generating a considerable amount of publicity after accomplishing the world’s first drone delivery of a watch - which lead to them featuring in a number of different news outlets including The Examiner, The Telegraph & Argus, and The Daily Express.
Currently in their third year, the brand now has a growing base of loyal customers with a sizeable base of over 200,000 followers and fans across social media platforms, and are hopefully looking to distribute internationally to grow this further.
Key Takeaway: Targeted Marketing Campaigns with Social Media & PR
A streamlined marketing approach focusing on targeted social media marketing and PR stunts has helped Weird Ape become the widely acknowledged brand they are today.
Overclockers - Newcastle
Founded in 1999, Overclockers was originally known as Esnet Ltd and was created from an idea that now Managing Director, Mark Proudfoot had. A keen overclocker himself, he decided he wanted to sell overclocked CPU’s with guaranteed performance and stability.
The company has continued to grow since, moving into new larger premises in Newcastle and have continued to invest in launching new sections for their customers. Famous in the PC enthusiast industry, Overclockers also have some of the most popular forums in the UK.
Their new facilities and appointment of new staff is a testament to their steady growth over the past years.
Key Takeaway: Create a Strong Online Community for Fans and Followers
Continuous investment in launching new product lines, acquiring new staff and creating a popular online community has helped the Overclockers company to grow steadily over the past years.
AO.com - Bolton
Based in Bolton, AO.com is an online retailer of electrical goods. According to the company’s website, the idea for AO.com was born when now CEO John Roberts was in a pub with a friend who bet him £1 he couldn’t sell appliances online - a challenge that John willingly accepted. Eventually, their first website was launched in 2001.
In September of 2017, they reported a 13.3% increase in revenue, with sales in the UK up by 9.9%. This feat was accomplished with the help of the launch of their new mobile app, along with new categories that were rolled out throughout the year.
AO.com put their customers at the heart of everything they do, and in 2012 they launched a brand new customer service centre with up to 150 employees dedicated to serving their customers.
Key Takeaway: Exceptional Customer Service Is Key to Success
AO’s award winning customer service is a major contributing factor towards their growth and success, and has also lead to them winning the Customer Service Initiative award at the Oracle Retail Week Awards.
CurrentBody - Manchester
CurrentBody started in 2009 and have grown considerably since. Their mission is to consistently present CurrentBody as the pioneering online destination for home health and beauty technology.
The company is said to be the first eCommerce store to recognise some of the fastest growing trends in the beauty industry - focusing on key sectors such as anti ageing, hair removal and/or regrowth, slimming products and more.
Now recognised by a wide range of magazines and media outlets including Elle, OK!, Good Housekeeping and more, the brand’s products are stocked in online stores such as L’Oreal. CurrentBody has also been featured in the Northern Tech 100 table.
Key Takeaway: Take Advantage of Growing Trends in Your Industry
Taking advantage of the fastest growing trends in the world of beauty has helped CurrentBody to become the innovative and widely acknowledged company they are today.
Lo-Dough - Manchester
On a mission to change the world through healthier bread, Lo-Dough create and sell gluten free, low carb alternative bread products.
Launched in 2017, the company has grown incredibly quickly and has seen a great number of successes since. In the first two months after their launch, they welcomed up to 3,000 customers and their average conversion rate has been at 6% ever since their launch - hitting as high as 15% at peak times.
Lo Dough is loved by a number of influencers and bloggers who have helped the brand grow, and also have their own online community through which they have created a space for fans and customers to share their own recipes, tips, advice and more.
Lo Dough successfully used scarcity marketing to boost their sales - launching fresh batches of their product everyday at 10am which often sold out within 10 minutes!
Key Takeaway: Take Advantage of Your Niche Market with Influencers
A brilliantly unique product and their ability to take advantage of their niche market has been greatly beneficial for Lo Dough. Providing an online community for customers and fans to share tips and recipes has also helped them to build their customer base. Scarcity marketing has also improved their sales and helped towards positioning themselves within their niche.
Fragrance Direct - Macclesfield
Fragrance Direct is a leading UK beauty retailer, stocking over 14,000 products for 600 big name high street and designer brands.
Launched in 1993, they were originally focused on the fragrance market, but as the store went from strength to strength and grew impressively, they branched out and now have a collection that includes fragrances, skincare, makeup and hair care essentials.
Fragrance Direct use a wide variety of both online and offline marketing to drive sales and maximise brand exposure, with a brilliantly successful PR and SEO strategy that has helped them increase their online visibility. Moreover they have been present at many events, attending the launches of new perfumes such as Marc Jacobs.
Key Takeaway: Implement a Combination of Online and Offline Marketing Activities
A mix of both online and offline marketing activity has proved to be incredibly successful for Fragrance Direct - not only do they have a strong online presence but their offline activity has massively increased their brand exposure.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
On the Beach - Cheadle
On the Beach is an online beach holiday retailer - and one of the UK’s leading online beach stores. The businesses began in 2004, and send away well over one million happy customers on holiday each year.
The Cheadle-headquartered firm have also recently completed the acquisition of Sunshine.co.uk to further strengthen their market leading position. They pride themselves on their 24/7 in-resort support from their UK call centre and have been recognised as a trusted service by Feefo, for which they won the “2017 Trusted Service Award”.
Key Takeaway: Customer Support
It’s safe to say that the company’s 24/7 in-resort support is one of the main reasons for their incredible success, along with their investment in review platforms such as Feefo.
Gear4Music - York
Launched in 2003, Gear4Music is a leading retailer of musical instruments and equipment, with over 1.3 million registered customers.
International growth, rising website traffic and improving conversion rates have greatly contributed to their impressive 44% increase in revenue, and gross profit increase by 36% to £7.8 million. They also recently invested £0.77m in their eCommerce platform to work on a number of key projects to improve their site.
The company prides itself on its excellent customer service - with approximately 300 employees in three different countries and multilingual support for overseas customers. Furthermore, ongoing product training is routinely undertaken and staff are kept up to date with any changes so they are able to help their customers as much as possible.
Gear4Music also have thirteen different delivery service providers and have a very reliable, class-leading range of delivery options.
Key Takeaway: Offer Exceptional Delivery Options
An excellent delivery process and high standard of customer service has helped them become one of the most trusted online retailers of musical equipment in the UK.
Boohoo - Manchester
Known to be “leading the fashion eCommerce market”, Boohoo has quickly become a household name since it was launched in 2006. A global brand focused on making fashion accessible and fun for all, they now have over 4 million fans on social, an online magazine, and over a thousand employees.
In 2017, they reported 106% increase in revenue growth all-round, and over 99% increase in gross profit.
Key Takeaway: Use Influencers to Generate Publicity
Boohoo prides itself on its highly impressive marketing campaigns with some of their most successful strategies focusing on influencer marketing. Boohoo have worked with a wide range of bloggers, students and celebrities, generating publicity and bringing in more fans which has helped them to become the hugely successful brand they are today.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Approved Food - Sheffield
Approved Food are an online supermarket aiming to reduce food wastage by selling clearance food and drink at discount prices. They have the UK’s largest selection of surplus and short dated food and drink items for cheap prices, to prevent them from being thrown away and wasted.
They have been featured in documentaries on BBC and ITV and multiple print and online media features, and have even made appearances on Dragons Den and Loose Women.
A keen use of social media and exceptional customer service have enabled Approved Food to become a widely loved company.
Key Takeaway: Use Social Media Marketing to Build a Loyal Customer Base
The company utilises social media to its full potential and provide an excellent service for their customers, and have become a widely known and loved retailer. Furthermore, their ethical standpoint and ability to prevent food wastage all while helping people save money is one of the primary reasons they have become so popular.
It’s evident that there is a very strong and influential community of eCommerce stores growing in the North of England. Their successes are highly inspirational for us all - we’re sure you’ve learnt a thing or two whilst reading this and have some new ideas for your store!
As eCommerce experts, we are committed to helping you grow your brand and work with you to develop your eCommerce business. Just get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to help!