If you don't know your Cornish Yarg from your Stinking Bishop you probably haven't visited www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk - the web site of the Teddington-based cheese shop of the same name. Set up by two cheese and wine-loving former engineers in 1995, the business used to deliver to shoppers and retailers by direct mail. Inevitably, most orders were placed at the end of the week, leaving the midweek empty. 'Spreading orders more evenly was the main driver for going on-line in 1997,' says director Doug Thring.
Today, his award-winning site, designed by Axos and updated in-house, receives 120,000 hits a month, averages pounds 30 an order and generates a third of the firm's turnover. 'Making cheese exciting on the net is challenging,' says Thring, 'especially as five rival cheese sites have now sprung up.' But with enticing photographs and a redesign this month, Thring believes he will create a complete cheese portal. 'It will have more facts on the history behind each cheese,' he promises, 'more to learn and, given that most web orders are for dinner parties, advice on which wines suit which types of cheese.'
A currency converter is to be built into the on-line ordering page to assist international on-line customers. Clients now range from Moscow to Singapore and the web site has received many hits from New Zealanders with a penchant for Stilton.