Each week, Northern Startups shines a light on some of the startup innovation happening around the region. To put your startup forward for consideration, contact david@prolificnorth.co.uk

Vedo-Logo4Startup: Vedo Digital

What is it? A visual commerce consultancy

Founder: Tim Bilsborough and Gabrielle O’Hare

Based: Manchester

Founded: 2013

Five years ago, says Tim Bilsborough of Vedo Digital, content was “irrelevant” to retailers. “It was all about UX and how fast the page loaded.”

Now, while UX is still important, content is suddenly vital. “It’s about engaging with content… customers form opinions about retailers based on the experiences they have.
I genuinely think the age of e-commerce is starting to mature.”

Bilsborough and co-founder Gabrielle O’Hare spotted this trend coming and launched Vedo – pronounced “Vay-doh” after the Italian for “I see” – two years ago. “We both recognised that there was a shift and that has grown,” adds Bilsborough. “More and more retailers are taking on production staff in order to create content in-house. We recognised there would have been a skills gap, and we’ve been proved right.”

Bilsborough and O’Hare work on a consultancy basis and count some of the country’s biggest brands – the likes of Tesco, Argos, Wilko, Travis Perkins and B&Q – among their clients. Bilsborough brings the practical experience – he’s a founding partner and former operations director at Hangar Seven – while O’Hare (ex-Hangar Seven too, but also a former client services director at Dinosaur) has a more strategic input.

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So what content shift are they involved in? The phrase is ‘visual commerce’, and it’s all about using product images and video as conversion drivers. It’s driven by a process of understanding what information retailers’ customers need and the questions they are asking. These insights then feed directly into the content production process to create more effective product images and videos for use online and in social channels.

This approach has best been personified by the likes of Schuh and AO.com – anyone who has ever searched for a washing machine on the latter’s website will be familiar with the depth of available video content.

“The newer part of this process,” adds Bilsborough, “is the ability to add data into images and video, building in the capability to test and analyse different content types and combinations to understand what visual product experiences have the biggest impact on conversion.”

Vedo is now looking to win more work off manufacturers to complement the retailers it works with on a project and retained basis. It is also in discussions about producing more content for social campaigns for existing clients.

Originally set up with the help of a £20,000 loan from Business Growth Hub, Bilsborough admits they will be on the hunt for more investment soon.

Turnover is growing at a annual rate of 50%, and Bilsborough says they would use any funds to develop “technology solutions” to back up the consultancy work they deliver. “We’re very ambitious and have huge plans,” he adds.