We are Chain , a specialist e-commerce agency, got more than it bargained for when it carried out customer experience research by setting-up its own enterprise.
The digital agency, which is based near Salisbury, launched an online pet shop called Dogs Dogs Dogs Ltd to see first-hand some of the challenges its own customers face when selling on the internet.
But, unexpectedly, the enterprise has proved to be a huge success, with business soaring at both companies during the Covid lockdowns.
Rupert explained, “Jim and I have a wealth of experience in selling online between us, but we wanted to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes.
“We thought the best way to do it was to start our own enterprise so we could encounter the issues which cause them headaches every day and then find the right solutions.
“Both being dog lovers, we hit on the idea of an online pet shop and business has just boomed. We made more sales over three days at the start of this year than for three months combined last year.
“However, most importantly we have been able to put lessons learned into practice for our clients so they can deliver the very best service for their own customers.
“The vast majority have seen their sales grow too over the lockdown.”
We are Chain is a specialist in e-commerce management services which helps businesses promote and sell products and services online.
This ranges from building websites or optimising them to ensure they work most effectively to identifying the best payment platforms, apps, fulfilment services and customer management systems.
Jim said, “We’ve become incredibly busy during the pandemic, putting more than 50 businesses online.
“This is reflected in latest figures from the ONS which show that clicks online are rapidly replacing the bricks and mortar of high street shops.
“There’s only one trajectory for online sales now, and that’s upwards. The pandemic is a watershed moment for retail.”
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), online sales in the UK in 2020 rose to a record high of nearly 34% as a share of all retail spending.
The amount spent in online retail sales increased by 46.1% when compared with 2019, the largest annual increase since 2008.
Meanwhile, retail sales at physical shops fell 10.3% from £318.5 billion in 2019 to £285.8 billion amid lockdowns and public health responses.
The UK’s retail industry accounts for nearly 5.1% of GDP, according to the ONS, with 3.19 million people employed pre-pandemic.
We are Chain is a Shopify partner agency, which is an e-commerce software service incorporating secure payment and shipping processing systems. More than one million businesses worldwide use the system.
Directors Rupert and Jim have both run their own digital businesses with combined experience of 30 years of selling online. The company is based in Berwick St Leonard, between Shaftesbury and Salisbury.
As well as Dogs Dogs Dogs Ltd, they run a bespoke marketplace for small businesses across Dorset, called Designed in Dorset.
Pictured above: (left to right) We are Chain directors Rupert Brown and Jim Chetwode