A family-run nursery business has been helped to revolutionise its online sales platform thanks to the support of Teesside University.

A Hill & Sons, a fourth-generation wholesale horticultural and plant nursery based in Stokesley, accessed the Innovate Tees Valley programme to develop a first-of-its-kind sales platform to provide more accurate and efficient information to customers.

The programme’s Knowledge Exchange Internship (KEI) scheme recruited and part-funded a Computer Science graduate to re-develop the website and accompanying mobile app with academic support from the University.

The completed sales platform will allow the company to offer a fully-searchable database of its stock, with up-to-date information about availability and pricing.

A Hill & Sons is predominantly a wholesale nursery, though retail is available, which offers a wide range of trees, shrubs and hardy plants to customers including local authorities, landscapers, NHS hospital trusts and major house builders.

Director Simon Hill said: “The nature of our business is such that availability of plants and shrubs can often be quite a volatile situation – some of our products can take 20 years to mature.

“Customers need to be kept up-to-date with information such as stock availability, lead times, pricing and also alternatives.

“We wanted something that could show availability in real-time and process changes accurately and quickly.

“Most horticultural software relies on the user having a high level of experience in the industry. We wanted something that our customers, who might not necessarily have that level of expertise, could use to process competitive quotes – there isn’t anything that exists that can do that.”

Teesside University BSc (Hons) Computer Science graduate Rob Brown joined A Hill & Sons in July 2018 and worked alongside Barry Hebbron , an Enterprise Fellow in the School of Computing and Digital Technologies to work to the brief and develop the new sales platform.

Simon Hill added: “This has the potential to make a massive impact on our business.

“Our service levels will improve drastically as it enables us give instantaneous quotes to customers, including out of hours.

“It will make the whole sales process significantly easier.”

Innovate Tees Valley, led by Teesside University, works with companies to help them try new things in their business and create and improve services, products and processes.  It is financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “Innovation sits at the heart of business success.  We’re delighted that A Hill & Sons have been able to benefit from our graduate talent and business support to improve their sales platform and offer a more accurate and efficient service to customers.”

For more information on Innovate Tees Valley visit www.innovateteesvalley.com

For more information A Hill & Sons visit www.hillandsons.co.uk