eCommerce platform Visualsoft has been crowned the most innovative eCommerce and retail company in the UK.

An independent judging panel and our readers voted in the inaugural 100 eCommerce Trailblazers ranking for 2019 - and the Teesside-based propriety platform came out on top after securing backing from both.

Incorporated back before the rise of Google 21 years ago, Visualsoft employs more than 300 people across Teesside, Newcastle and Manchester and doubled operating profit to £2.1 million on sales of £13m last year.

"To be named as BusinessCloud's most innovative eCommerce company in our 21st year is truly fantastic," said CEO Dean Benson. "I'd like to thank our clients, partners and staff for their continued support."

Following an MBO in 2014, co-founder Benson changed its business model to performance-based marketing: rather than charging a retail client a large fee upfront, the ‘Shared Success’ model effectively partners Visualsoft with them to drive sales which benefit both parties.

Dean Benson

“It was probably our most pivotal moment,” Benson told BusinessCloud of the "risky" shift towards monthly recurring revenue.

“It’s about putting our mindset back to where it was with the first eComm site: how do we get more revenue and profits to that website? What tools can we write today, what code can we deploy, to make a difference?

“The beauty of it is that we can then roll that across every single client on Shared Success. We’re no longer creating something to try and sell it 1,000 times: we’re creating it to give a genuine return. It means we look at the whole industry and think about how to innovate.”

Today Visualsoft works with more than 1,200 clients. More than one per cent of all UK eCommerce transactions go through its platforms, an annual total of £750m.

The 100 eCommerce Trailblazers ranking in full

Visualsoft was followed in the ranking by Bidnamic, a marketing technology platform based in Leeds which helps retailers unlock the full potential of Google Shopping.

It does this by applying machine learning to profile every single producy SKU (stock-taking unit) in a company's catalogue, predicting its optimal bid value algorithmically. 

London-based GoInStore, a live video streaming app which connects at-home shoppers with in-store sales assistants, was third.

Manchester-based Airtime Rewards and flight comparison unicorn Skyscanner, headquartered in Edinburgh, rounded out the top five.

You can see the full top 100 ranking, which was voted on from a long-list of 140 disruptive companies, here.

The judging panel was comprised of:

  • Nigel Jones, sector specialist: tech & creative, Department for International Trade
  • Ellie England, sales director, Microsoft Search Advertising
  • Matthew Evans, director - markets, techUK
  • Colin Neil, senior VP business development, Adyen
  • Davina Lines, MD, eCommerce Club and Mixing Digital
  • Jonathan McNamara, CEO, RetroFuzz
  • Patricia Keating, executive director, Tech Manchester
  • Julian Wells, director, Whitecap Consulting
  • Darren Ratcliffe, MD, Digitl
  • Jonathan Symcox, editor, BusinessCloud
The 100 eCommerce Trailblazers ranking in full