Explosion in online shopping could hold key to Visualsoft’s growth

An explosion in online retailing could hold the key to success for fast-growing tech firm Visualsoft.

The Stockton company has unveiled ambitious expansion plans that could see it double turnover and headcount in three years – and managing director Dean Benson says the rise of smartphones and cyber-shopping could help pave the way for further growth.

Stockton-headquartered Visualsoft, which also has offices in Newcastle, London and Sydney, currently employs around 160 staff and has a turnover approaching £10m.

Dean intends to increase headcount to around 300 and double revenues by 2017 on the back of rising demand among retail customers for sophisticated e-commerce and mobile commerce systems.

“Everyone is buying online,” he said. “It’s not just via a PC either. People are making purchases directly from their iPhones.

“I truly believe that we can achieve this level of growth. We are winning more contracts and we work with some big names including Jules B and Breo Watches.”

UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013, according to IMRG-Capgemini’s eRetail Sales Index, a figure which is predicted to rise to £107bn this year. The growth has been driven largely by the rising popularity of m-commerce, with one third of online sales now made on a mobile device including smartphones and tablets.

Visualsoft has also capitalised on the social media boom by creating social networking campaigns for retailers seeking new ways to reach their customers. The company is currently recruiting 20 staff on the back of new contract wins.

The firm was launched in 1998 by Mr Benson and former business partner Richard Bendelow, who has now left the company to pursue other interests. A new management structure sees Mr Benson supported by technical director Matt Burton, business development director Tim Johnson and online marketing director David Duke.

The firm has grown rapidly in recent years and now has more than 1,000 clients. Earlier this year it opened an office in central Sydney, Australia, to capitalise on rising demand for its services, which include web development, search engine optimisation and multi-channel e-commerce and m-commerce solutions.

Mr Benson said: “Mobile commerce is mainstream now. For that reason it will be a growth market for us for years to come.

“Although we have sites in other places our head office will remain in Teesside. We will expand from here.”

Visualsoft has picked up several accolades during its 16-year history. Earlier this year it featured in the prestigious Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, which charts the 100 fastest-growing creative companies in the UK. The company also won the Internet and ICT award at last year’s Gazette-backed North East Business Awards.

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