Belfast Telegraph

How clicks and bricks are helping Co Down firm excel

By Rachel Martin

Co Down designer fashion retailer Excel Clothing is using a £37,000 cash boost to help export goods as far as North America.

The firm has been in business for more than three decades with two 'bricks and mortar' shops in Newtownards and Bangor.

But with an increasing number of online sales, building a profile overseas is becoming more important than ever.

"Online sales have revolutionised the Northern Ireland high street," owner William Gilliland told the Belfast Telegraph.

"People use the website as a shop window before they come into the store to see what we do and if there's anything new."

Online, the company only does 1% of sales in Northern Ireland, with the majority of orders shipped to Great Britain.

Excel Clothing has plans to update its website to feature a dedicated local phone number, euro retail prices and a next day delivery service to help drive sales in the Republic of Ireland.

The company has also revealed that its website will be reactive to the device it is displayed on, a feature Mr Gilliland says is vital to attracting online customers.

He said: "We are noticing more and more people are viewing our website on mobile phones, so it's important that we have a website designed for that.

"It's hard to see everything when a website designed for a desktop computer is squeezed down so we want to make a site which will react to any screen size."

Observations made by Excel have shown that most online customers prefer the reassurance of a desktop when they are purchasing but a breakthrough market are beginning to use their phones for the whole transaction.

Using a combination of targeted advertising and Google Adwords, the brand hopes to build an international reputation.

The company's marketing campaign, will use search engine optimisation, pay per click views and online activities such as blogging, social media and advertising.

And furniture business Interiors IQ is also attempting to boost exports. The Portadown retailer will also receive over £37,000 of Invest NI money.

The grant will help both companies to maximise their online presence in a bid to boost sales across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Interiors HQ was established in April 2014 as a multi-channel e-commerce solution to distribute a range of furniture and home furnishings sourced from suppliers and manufacturers across UK and Ireland.

Interiors HQ has used the support from Invest NI to appoint a new e-commerce manager and is recruiting a data administrator.

Belfast Telegraph