A strong handle on the future

UKTI’s Export Communications Review provided Liam and Carol Carey of Merlin Glass with the tools to implement a world class website and app, which is paying dividends

Merlin Glass is home to Liam Carey, a Cornish glassmaker, who uses a unique process to make beautiful glass door handles and glass knobs, alongside a range of other glassware, such as vases, scent bottles and ornaments. A family-run business, Merlin Glass was established 30 years ago in Liskeard, Cornwall and is now run by Liam and his wife, Carol.

The business has long enjoyed success in the UK, with many customers viewing Liam in action in the glassworks prior to purchasing. However, since Carol joined Merlin Glass in 2010, she has focused on developing the business overseas, committed to taking Merlin Glass’s beautiful products to the wider export market. Enthused by initial sales enquiries from Russiaand Japan, and having secured an agent in New England, USA, Merlin Glass took the decision to focus on the USA market as the priority. Carol was aware that, to really make an impact in the USA, their internet presence was going to have to work much harder for them!

A website MOT

Whilst attending a local business networking event, Carol was introduced to Sabina Rademacher, an International Trade Advisor with UKTI; Sabina explained the various UKTI support available to Merlin Glass. As Carol explained, “We weren’t quite ready for all of this help, but the Export Communications Review did sound of interest”. The Export Communications Review (ECR) provides practical, impartial and straightforward advice to help companies improve their communications to overseas markets; each review is conducted by a communications expert and is tailored to the company’s individual requirements.

Merlin website

Export Communications Review

“We contacted Susan Roe, our local ECR Consultant, to give our current website ‘an MOT’!” clarified Carol. “We knew it would ‘fail’ but we wanted to know where we should focus to make it better, preparing the base for creating our USA website”. Susan was very happy to work with this brief and met with Carol to review her current website and learn about Merlin Glass’s aspirations for the future, including the desire to increase their profile in the USA and create a USA-specific website. Carol was delighted with the consequent report, “Susan did a great job, and very quickly provided us with a step-by-step approach for how to improve our current website, resulting in an enhanced overall style and simplified navigation. She also provided us with some great ideas for our USA communications strategy”.

Effective visuals mean more sales

Merlin Glass offers high value glass products and an exceptional design service which wasn’t highlighted on the current website. As the showroom and stockist are only in the UK and Russia respectively, Carol’s international customers outside of these countries don’t have the luxury of being able to ‘touch and feel’ before buying. Susan recommended that effective visual media be used to communicate the quality of the products to a ‘virtual remote’ international audience, and bring this unique design service to life. Susan suggested Merlin Glass consider an e-brochure, or similar interactive solution, alongside world class visuals on the website to both maximise the quality of the products and minimise potential language barriers. Developing this idea, Carol created a highly visual and interactive iPad app which enable sinterior designers, architects and potential customers to view Merlin Glass’s product range, and ‘play’ with the visuals to create their desired living space, effectively bringing Merlin Glass’s design service, and entire product range directly into their hands!

Very ‘appy!

With an elegant website, and a sophisticated app, the export potential for Merlin Glass is starting to be realised, “We’re still in the early days” says Carol “but within the first week of launch, the app has been downloaded all over the world from Brazil to China, driving an increased volume of traffic to our website. We still very much need the website, but this new app really is the ‘cherry on the cake’ which brings people in! ”

Carol was very happy that she called upon the support of Susan and the Export Communications Review, “Yes, I would definitely recommend the ECR – it really encourages you to think more widely about your communications, and the best ways to get your messages out there! People spend a lot of time working ‘in the business’; the ECR really makes you stop and think about where you want your business to go”

Sectors: Creative & Media and Household Goods, Furniture & Furnishings
Countries: South West England and United States
Export Action Plan