Designers Spencer and Diane Hannah launched Herdy, a Lake District-based giftware and accessories firm, in 2007. They took their inspiration from the lovable Herdwick sheep, which are unique to the area. Their original business was based on wholesaling to retailers but they soon recognised the importance of having an online presence in order to give their customers an opportunity to connect directly to Herdy.
They created an online shop for Herdy in 2008. It was the platform for displaying Herdy to the world. Customers who'd never been to the Lake District started to buy from the Hannahs' growing range of products. "It allowed us to reach beyond our Lakes location and gain customers who would never have found us otherwise," says Diane.
Selling online means that customers can buy at the time that they want, at their own convenience. This is great for customer service, which, as Diane says, "is really what we want to do as a business."
Herdy's online website was originally very simple - it just had a few pages and a shopping cart - but the Hannahs found that it wasn't necessary to be IT literate to build an online shop from scratch. "There's an awful lot of help out there," Diane says, "it's not as scary as it used to be."
"Our business has really seen enormous benefits from doing more online," says Spencer. "Launching an online shop in 2008 did seem quite daunting at the time, particularly for a business of our size. However, it really was a key move which put the Herdy brand on the UK and international map.
Today, Herdy's growing range of products is stocked by more than 400 retailers and the 12-strong company has three shops in Keswick, Grasmere and Hawes. It also has strong links with the USA and Japan. There's no doubt that its success to date owes a good deal to the Hannahs' commitment to building their online presence.
If you would like to find how to 'do more online' then visit http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/domoreonline/