Sheffield social e-commerce business Frooly is already helping hundreds of SMEs to successfully trade online, many for the first time.
The business, launched in October last year, currently works with 500 independent businesses to aid online marketing and sales – over 50 shops operating on the site had never previously sold online at all.
Sheffield solicitors Wake Smith & Tofields, who acted during Frooly’s initial set up, have praised the firm’s entrepreneurial spirit and support shown for other aspiring businesses operating in tough economic conditions.
Research suggests that 79% of SMEs do not sell online -against a general trend for online sales which are expected to increase by 36% to £40billion.
Founder and Managing Director Michael Ord launched Frooly in reaction to this trend, assisting businesses to take advantage of opportunities online.
Recognising a gap in the market for a social e-commerce platform, the business, based in Sheffield Technology Parks, launched targeting lifestyle and retail SMEs.
Michael said: “Independent businesses will be forced to sell online over the next 3-5 years to survive. Many SMEs have ‘brochure sites’ which are updated infrequently and as a consequence perform really badly on Google search.
“Frooly lowers the time and skill requirement of being competitive online. A Frooly shop acts as an e-commerce hub, integrated with the Frooly marketplace, Google Shopping and Amazon so that each business can reach the widest possible audience. It’s an accessible way for SMEs to sell online, enabling businesses to be part of the Frooly marketplace, directory newsfeed and more. We’re delighted with last quarter’s performance and have ambitious plans in 2011 to work with more businesses on Frooly and make the site commonplace with online consumers.”
Frooly now works with a diverse range of businesses, including Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, as well as a variety of retailers and producers including works from local artist, The Old Sweet Shop, and Mellorware, creators of handmade special tea sets.
Peter Rawlinson, IP and E-commerce Partner at Wake Smith & Tofields, said: “We were especially pleased to have been selected by the Frooly team as we beat stiff competition from one or two national law firms. Our personal and specialist knowledge of the e-commerce retail sector meant we could offer Frooly an excellent and cost-effective service. “It’s a very exciting project and Frooly offers a unique proposition to enable regional and national businesses to compete successfully online against some of the bigger retailers.
“The uniqueness of the business posed many challenges during the business’ initial set up. We created a suite of online documents suitable for a fully operational social e-commerce site, including terms and conditions of trade for use by Frooly and Frooly’s retail clients. This meant advising on a number of highly technical banking and regulatory issues.
“The team at Frooly had a very clear vision to launch in October to take full advantage of the seasonal trade and the company’s recent strong financial performance is testament to the hard work from everyone involved.”
Frooly presents consumers with a personalised shopping mall; with gift ideas, vouchers, up to date news and trusted recommendations from peers. Frooly automatically promotes content across Google, Facebook and YouTube to seed information across the web.
Peter Rawlinson met Frooly CEO Chris Welsh during one of Wake Smith’s Business Portal sessions which have been operated by Peter for 10 years (currently from the Sheffield Technology Park) and are aimed at helping the city-region’s high growth technology and creative businesses..