The web offers small businesses tremendous opportunities to drive growth, but building the brand and customer trust can be challenging to begin with. Here, Andrew and Michelle Beresford-Williams, founders of the award-winning Home Leisure Direct, share some of the secrets of their success.
Home Leisure Direct (HLD) is a small business generating big profits. From pool tables to pinball machines, jukeboxes to air hockey – it’s got everything you could possibly want for your games room. Last year the firm increased turnover by 50% – just one of the reasons it was chosen as a finalist in the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2016.
The company may have three showrooms at its Bristol offices and a new concession in Selfridges but much of its success has been built on strong and sustainable online performance. Last year HLD launched new mobile and tablet versions of its site, driving revenue growth via these channels over 130%.
Home Leisure Direct has certainly come a long way since 2007, when husband and wife team Andrew and Michelle founded the business in their spare bedroom. They remember well the challenges associated with getting things off the ground in the early days.
“Growing eCommerce sites must remember that most of their new visitors have never heard of them before and have landed on their website as a result of a search engine result,” says Andy. “Because they don't know you or your company, they will be worried whether their money is safe and if your company fulfils the order.”
A five-point plan
You can grow your brand, build trust with online visitors and convert them into paying customers in a number of different ways. Here’s some useful advice from Home Leisure Direct on how you could become the UK’s next small business success story:
“This is key to building customer trust. Make it absolutely clear through product description, delivery options and a range of high quality photos exactly what the customer is buying. Price clearly so the customer doesn't get any nasty surprises at the checkout with unexpected extra charges. If you think the deal is done when the customer reaches the checkout page, think again.”
“Customer reviews help to build a new customer’s confidence, especially when they are posted using a recognised review provider to assure customers the reviews are real. Customer feedback will also help you to improve your own services.”
“Using trusted payment providers and securing your website and systems is vital to running a successful small business and retaining customers. Don't forget to show clearly on your website that your customers’ details and their money is safe with you.”
4.Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
“This can be a challenge at any stage. From our own experience, SEO is never a quick fix and if you are going to hire a company to do it effectively you need to research them thoroughly and bear in mind that they can be costly. If you aren't prepared to spend a huge amount on this, we suggest you do it yourself, using some of the many online resources available to help. Alternatively, you could hire an in-house member of staff to look after your SEO that you can trust to do it for you.”
“You’d be hard-pushed to find anyone in the UK who doesn't use some form of social media, so it’s a good way to reach out to relevant audiences. We suggest a tone of voice that comes across as a genuine part of the social media community rather than a sales pitch.
Have clear objectives in any social media campaign to keep you on track. Are you posting this because you want to gain sales? Or because you want to attract more followers to your page? Or maybe you want to show wary customers that your company is alive and well?”
We would like to thank Andy and Michelle from Home Leisure Direct for their helpful tips and advise on how they grew their online business and how you can too. If you would like to share your own business success tips, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see how we can feature you in our next newsletter.