Our Progress

Achievements & Insights That Shape Us

Take an inside look at how we have progressed REC+ and key moments that influence our direction. REC+ has been developed and continuously improved since 2008 with this section added in September 2017.

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2023: Readjusting To Sales After The Pandemic, AI & Enhanced Data Analytics, Customer Segmentation & Loyalty

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

2023 saw businesses adjust to life after the pandemic online spending boom conjoined with tougher economic conditions: the sharp rise in inflation, higher mortgage interest rates and stagnating UK and European economies. The US painted a better picture with strong growth due to the handouts from the Assistance for American Families and Workers Bill and later in the year the Inflation Reduction Act pumping money into the economy.

For many businesses emphasis switched to maintaining reasonable levels of growth balanced across online and offline channels, and improving profit on the bottom line. This was via maximising existing systems and improving operational efficiencies, focus on marketing spend and returns, better data analysis to inform business decisions as well as seeking greater customer loyalty.

Our efforts mirrored this with much improved data analytics to cover the full advertising and purchasing cycle in a simpler interface, automated customer sales classifications to help Sales teams identify and contact key customers, plus customer portals providing greater product discovery and self service. A new order tracking app also improved customer service and enhanced vehicle search was added for automotive sites.

To improve customer loyalty, we introduced a powerful new VIP Club system to reward customers with automated reminders to prompt additional purchases to maintain their level or move up to the next level, as well as early bird and exclusive products.

For manufacturers, the new Product Lifecycle & Forecast tool and Runners, Repeaters & Strangers reporting provided valuable insights for scheduling workload and allowing procurement teams to order ahead in good time.

The big jack-in-the-box this year was the launch of ChatGPT generative AI. We quickly integrated this and other AI services to help clients effortlessly generate content ideas for blog posts, product descriptions, page content and email subject lines. Customer sentiment was also summarised using AI for feedback forms and Google's Cloud translation AI was added to assist with foreign language queries arriving via our Expert Answers system, which itself benefited from a new automated followup feature and conversion reporting. The new sales classification system uses algorithmic intelligence to identify customers who are at risk of being lost or falling away, rising stars and big spenders.

More advanced analytics came in the form of the GMC Summary system for monitoring and alerting issues with products being advertised, which also supports Magento data imports. A new Boost Performance tab also gave direct insights into ad performance, which when combined with the Top Products report and our Price Comparison app gives a comprehensive picture of what is and isn't selling and why. Google's new GA4 analytics platform also became mandatory, however it's attribution system left a lot to be desired and so we relied more upon our own marketing tracking system for this.

Our hosted technology stack continued to perform marvellously with excellent page load speeds even during the busiest periods around Black Friday, with sound security layers to fend off the ever-present threat from bad actors on the internet. Safe and secure websites that run quickly remain a cornerstone of our service.

Our HTTPS Checker app continues to be maintained and remains in regular use worldwide by all sizes of organisations.

And last but by no means least, Wildfire Internet turned 15 this year and our own forest grew to 1,232 trees as part of our 'climate positive' work with ecologi.

2022: Loyalty, Profit Focus, Product Pricing Lifecycle & Knowing Your Customer

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

Coronavirus cast a long shadow over 2022, but for a different reason. The supposition had been that once more people shifted their buying pattern online it would see an accelerated adoption of internet shopping and just keep growing.

Many retailers expected revenues would continue along the same growth pattern, whereas in practice B2B sales often reverted to 2019 pre-pandemic levels and retail sales grew mainly where strong customer loyalty plans were in place to tempt back these new customers, plus increasing ad spend to drive retention and more new customer acquisition.

Resulting from this, a large part of our focus this year was on maintaining or exceeding those pandemic revenue streams, getting product price position set correctly in the marketplace using our price comparison software and in-built product conversion rate reports, while also focusing on profit and the bottom line.

More features were added to increase customer loyalty and understand deeper shifts in buying patterns with the introduction of product group analysis to figure out the application of products by customers. This led to extending and improving our Report Builder system to sift through lots of data quickly to identify what was delivering growth and where attention was needed to arrest and reverse decline in other areas.

This helped to "know the customer" better, leading to improved outreach programs either by telesales or digital marketing. New personalisation features were also added so that different customer groups could be targeted by geolocation with different messaging and product groups.

More improvements were made to our Price comparison monitoring tool to help businesses understand their price position in the marketplace and set the right pricing policies within the different stages of their product lifecycle. Additional conversion rate tracking was also added to our reporting toolset to marry up with the price comparison tool so that pricing adjustments could be prioritised and enacted more rapidly.

Our Multistore replication system had the benefit of some extra tweaks as did our Unleashed integration, with Tradebox continuing in place for Xero and Sage integrations.

The new technology stack we invested in at the end of 2021 performed marvellously with excellent page load speeds even during the busiest periods around Black Friday, plus the additional security layer we added ensured we continued to fend off the growing threat from bad actors on the internet. Safe and secure websites that run quickly is always the cornerstone of our service.

We maintained GDPR compliance and saw no uptake of the new EU IOSS system we'd introduced previously. The focus actually shifted to running special promotions to EU consumers to help combat the rise in shipping and handling costs due to Brexit, which won back customers.

Our HTTPS Checker app was also maintained and remains in regular use worldwide by all sizes of organisations.

And last but by no means least, Wildfire Internet has our own forest as part of our 'climate positive' work with ecologi to offset carbon emissions whilst also taking other positive steps to actively eliminate emissions.

2021: Multistore, Integrations , Marketing & Reporting, Price Comparison & Technology Stack Upgrades

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

Coronavirus continued to affect the economy and drive heightened online spending for home shopping, food, DIY and hobbyist marketplaces. We continued to introduce / update / deploy a range of marketing and conversion features including product bundles, product addons, in-cart deals, email tasks and campaign management and scheduling.

As part of our multi-year investment in technology, a great deal of time and effort went into the meticulous planning for upgrading our entire technology stack, from the servers upwards, to ensure performant load speeds, good page experience metrics and swift running of administrative backend tasks. The upgrade was completed in September without issue.

In terms of compliance, we introduced EU IOSS support, handling mixed VAT rates on product bundles and GDPR tweaks for cookie usage and styling.

Integrations continued to dominate including Multistore replication across multiple sites and identifying differences applied locally to the master store, integration into Unleashed and Xero, plus integration with Tradebox extended to include Xero (without Unleashed).

Other integrations / exports included:

Google My Business, Google & facebook ads customer match, adding LloydsBank cardnet payment support, twitter API update.

Another major development was the release of Report Builder, easily allowing comprehensive executive management reports to be generated from a wide range of metrics. which included adding 'user smart types' for handling multiple groups of similar customers.

Work continued on improving our Price comparison monitoring tool to help businesses understand their price position in the marketplace and set the right pricing policies.

Our HTTPS Checker app was also maintained and remains in regular use worldwide by all sizes of organisations.

And last but by no means least, Wildfire Internet became 'climate positive' working with ecologi to offset carbon emissions whilst also taking other positive steps to actively eliminate emissions.

2020: Multistore & Integrations, Marketing Drives Sales During Coronavirus

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

Coronavirus dominated the first part of 2020. Our efforts on the marketing front were initially deployed as a war room to monitor what the early effects of the virus and lockdown meant. This quickly switched to help businesses tap into home shopping surges especially in the food, DIY and hobbyist marketplaces with huge rises in revenues for many customers. We introduced a range of extra marketing and conversion features too including facebook and Instagram feeds, in-cart deals, more payment options including klarna, increased shipping service providers, extra email marketing capabilities. Price comparison monitoring was also improved and order analysis increased to get further into the detail of sales drivers and performance.

The biggest developments of the year by far were the introduction of Multistore to enable multiple stores to be populated with products and price changes from a master store, deeper integration into Sage plus new integration into Unleashed and Xero. This tied nicely together with process improvement work allowing faster bulk order taking via Quickshop for customers and to Manual Orders for admins inputting telesales orders, a better returns flow, integration of reviews between the 3rd party reviews.co.uk service and site reviews, and the introduction of Expert Answers to aid buyers. Importantly as part of our drive further into manufacturing support, BOMs were added into the product system together with product bundling capabilities plus picking lists and work instructions.

2019: App Store, Business Intelligence, Data Science, Marketing AI & More

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

2019 has been an important year seeing us launch our own REC+ App Store full of useful features and services for our users and introducing Business Intelligence (BI) into the core of the Admin Centre. This recommends key areas where the website can be improved as well as areas where there may be compliance issues. Additionally, Notifications flags up all the user interactions taking place on the site in one place, such as form enquiries, new orders, product reviews, new testimonials. For businesses, BI will lead you through a process of continuous improvement, better conversion and reducing risks from lack of compliance.

New methods of surveying website users can be feed back into your executive reporting processes as part of a data science-led approach. Artificial Intelligence has made its way in to Marketing via Google Smart Shopping, and we have measured the significant improvement that has had for our digital marketing clients. And lastly but by no means less important, we have rolled out a raft of new features, added in new security layers and undertaken further performance optimisation to improve site speed and faster processing. All-in-all, it's been a really interesting year in the ongoing development of the REC+ platform and services.

Alternative To Magento 2

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

Alternative to Magento 2

REC+ Enterprise Edition provides an alternative for Magento Version 1 users who need to re-platform onto Magento 2 since the announcement that 1.x goes end-of-life in June 2020. This follows on from the purchase of Magento by Adobe in May 2018 and leaves businesses using Magento 1.x facing huge licence and software development costs. REC+ offers a realistic alternative due to the many in-built and tested features already in the software. Importantly, the software is kept up to date on a rolling basis through Continuous Integration meaning users avoid large update costs. Please contact Neil Whelan on 0330 311 2910 for more details.

2018: GDPR, Price Comparison, Module System & More

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

2018 kicked off with us focusing on making changes to help businesses manage their GDPR compliance and the beta launch of our price tracking app (apply here). New features included the introduction of the Module system, Paypal Credit, improvements to the checkout process, security updates, as well as releasing further self-help articles for our clients, such as 50+ tips for conversion optimisation and 7-step Guide To Measuring & Improving Your Marketing, Sales & Conversions.

Track Prices


Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

"We welcomed on board 30 new clients in 2017 and pushed out 17 new feature releases, all fully tested and documented prior to automatic release across all sites via our overnight updates. This has ranged from the introduction of gift vouchers for retailers to a major re-engineering of our email system, Email Manager, to bring it to the same level of usability as other leading platforms whilst also integrating into lower cost Email Service Providers like Mailgun and pushing Prospect Manager out to selected beta users. We've also been moving sites across to HTTPS in line with industry-wide migrations, as well as encouraging those remaining users to update to fully mobile-friendly sites."

As an aside, our HTTPS migration tools have been used over 30,000 times worldwide to scan prestigious sites with up to 8,000,000 pages which is quite a robust engineering achievement, especially as we provide a free version together with paid plans. A further major milestone has been the introduction of Prospect Manager to the REC+ family, which allows simple management of sales prospects whilst offering powerful performance tracking features. Moving through the rest of 2017, our focus is shifting to the practical uses of predictive analytics to identify opportunities and provide informed business decisions for REC+ site users.

Big, New Prospecting Features

Released on 25th September 2017

Prospect Manager has had big new features added as part of its ongoing development drive, moving it from beta to general availability. This includes performance dashboards for sales agents, team leaders and sales managers; plus notifications when prospects open emails to read quotes, meaning agents know exactly when they move deeper into the sales funnel.

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Prospect Manager CRM

How REC+ Has Made A Difference To Our Business

By Russell Butt, Business Manager at Forge Motorsport

Customer Testimonial

“Moving to REC+ a few years ago was the best thing we ever did. We have had 10x the volume of sales on this software compared to previous websites. We are astounded by the amount of functionality available in the system, in fact there is more than we might ever be able to use. It certainly meets our needs and, importantly, we are working with a company that understands business rather than just being technical experts. Having said that, the online world has changed dramatically but nevertheless we are always kept up to date automatically. The bottom line for us is to see the cash come in.”

Competing With The Big Email Services: Major Update

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

As part of our product roadmap to enable REC+ to provide core lead management functionality found in systems like Hubspot and the more recent upstart Sharpspring, we embarked on a total rewrite of our Email Manager module to make it as usable as Mailchimp - or better! This ended up being a much bigger task than we first envisaged, but the end result was an easy-to-use UI to at least match Mailchimp combined with integration into Mailgun and AWS. This last part provided an important commercial benefit to our users because it meant we could offer high volume email sending with around 40% reductions in costs compared to Mailchimp and other providers.

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Email manager

Tackling The Move To HTTPS

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

HTTPS enables the secure transmission of data over the internet from a computer to any website, including WiFi hot spots. Sites running on HTTPS have an SSL certificate and a visible green padlock in their browser to show the connection is secure. It helps stop criminals stealing valuable data that could be used for spamming or stealing identities entered via forms, such as logging in to a site, making a purchase or subscribing to newsletters.

Google Chrome, Firefox & other browsers are more aggressively displaying messages saying the connection to your site is not secure if it is not on HTTPS. In addition, Google uses HTTPS as a small ranking factor, so there's an SEO benefit to moving. To help our users move seamlessly to HTTPS, we offer a fully managed migration service using our specialist tools and have also updated REC+ to allow Strict Security and send CSP violation reports to our HTTPS Reporter tool for real-time monitoring.

Should I Use Open Source Software?

Written By Neil Whelan, Head of Innovation

Fix Hacked Wordpress & Magento Sites

At a recent sales meeting, I was asked why people should use a proprietary system like REC+ versus free, downloadable software like Wordpress or Magento. A sensible question since both systems are widely used across the globe. In fact I started out using open source systems! For me, the major problem is one of security because so many open source sites get hacked due to poor implementation, testing and hardening. In fact companies like Sucuri have grown into global businesses because they fix hacked sites. The other issue is one of cost since there are normally lots of tweaks added, which effectively renders it as a bespoke application. And that means a lot of upgrade costs. On the other hand, REC+ offers a large range of functionality out-the-box, has new enhancements added regularly following testing and security scanning and is continuously updated - all part of the small monthly service charge.

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