Exciting times are ahead for us - after 20 years of Blueleaf, we've now taken the decision to join forces with OSF Commerce, a platinum Salesforce Partner with offices globally and covering all the Salesforce Commerce products.
OSF Commerce is still growing on the UK market. Blueleaf are very strong in the UK with our niche Salesforce Commerce Cloud experience. Our weaknesses though are linked to our limited size and that we only support Commerce Cloud. By joining forces with OSF, we could increase our Commerce Cloud experience and resource.
Over to Adrian to explain more:
”Our remit is for Rob and myself to lead the OSF UK delivery centre, by growing our team in the UK and our office in Sofia. The existing OSF UK team will fold into ours. We now have the ability to cover multi-cloud and internationalisation projects and have a much larger commerce cloud team, with the leadership team based in the UK.
Blueleaf over the years has had a bumpy journey to be fair - some amazing times in our 20 year history, but some real tough times as well which saw us get pretty close to closing the door for the final time, but thankfully, we didn't.
I started the business from a bedroom in my house near Jodrell Bank in Cheshire on 15th September 1999; Blue Leaf Communications - a design, marketing and print company. One of our first projects, and something I'm still proud of, is the British Cycling logo that is still in existence now. It was designed working with Dave Brailsford when he first joined British Cycling and led on to us doing all of the marketing and print requirements for British Cycling for 10 years.
The majority of our work in the early years was designing logos, brochures and corporate literature. However, digital was starting to impact the traditional marketing channels. I came across Rob Smith, a freelancer, through a good friend of mine. He initially freelanced for 12 months, building the websites that we designed but refused to join the team as an employee even though I was his only client. We then agreed to set up Blueleaf Digital and grew the digital team, feeding off Blue Leaf communications.
It became clear quite quickly that digital was an interesting and growing area to be in, so we started to put more energy and resource into growing the digital team and naturally shrinking the print side of the business. We managed to pick up a lead to a curtain manufacturer in St Helen’s and designed a site for them. Then came the opportunity to build a new site for their biggest client - Next. This was our lucky break to a major brand. Within a few months of the site going live we received a call from Laura Ashley. They wanted similar help with their bespoke curtain requirements online. This forced us into a very unique niche of perhaps being the best web team for curtains in the UK. We got more and more enquiries for this type of work but thankfully broke this when we got a call from Red Bull.
I must admit I thought it was a joke when Will from Red Bull wanted to come and see us. He said that they had a man who wanted to jump from space and they needed a website to follow his fall to earth. What a break. We asked “why Blueleaf?” and Will said "I've seen your previous clients’ work, seen that you’ve won awards and I now live 10 miles away and I want a local team to help me." What a lucky break.
We did a great proposal and presented it to Red Bull, hoping to get a positive response; but no, we were not selected. It was the right choice to be fair; we had no experience of sites of that size and that amount of traffic. Thankfully the team at Red Bull did come back to us with another project, Cliff Diving, which then led on to many of the World Series events including the F1 and Toro Rosso sites.
One of the things we fell into was owning a complicated digital team. We dropped all the traditional types of work and went fully digital. We had multiple clients, multiple platforms, too many possible points of failure. We had great clients but struggled to deliver everything. In fact we even got to overtrading at one stage. Too much work and not having the right team to deliver it. We had quite a few very tough years, including nearly going bust, remortgaging my house, a sad divorce and the need to take on a personal loan with Rob to stabilise the business. This was all over a number of years, where decisions were made to go digital only, then e-commerce only and then the need to start to niche with e-commerce platforms.
It should have been great, however it was very tough indeed, especially when redundancies of good people had to be made to ensure the business survived.
Due to our client Laura Ashley being on the Venda platform, we picked up more Venda clients. This created another new niche of being perhaps the best team in the UK for Venda. Great if it was a growing platform. Bad if it was dying and on a journey to being switched off. This gave us a new headache - where were our clients likely to go when Venda died?
Demandware had a similar business model to Venda, with it being a revenue share model. We jumped onto this after reviewing all the other e-commerce platforms, picking Demandware as it was growing and very niche but for larger retailers. Plus we were good at it.
Salesforce took the decision to buy Demandware, which led to the rebranded Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Our niche focus helped us grow our team again, picking up opportunities with DW Sports, Life Style Sports and Tate. We now had a great niche with a growing platform. Over the last 2 years, we have become really well known for our work on the platform, pushing the capabilities with some complex solutions for Tate and now V&A, where we have included ticketing, membership and e-commerce shops, sometimes with in-store capabilities as well. Something we are really proud of.
The challenge though was that we were struggling to get larger projects and enough of them, as there was simply not enough of the right size replatforming projects for us in the UK. This led to us looking for a partner to work with for both multi-cloud services and also an increased depth in Commerce Cloud. A chance meeting with Tim from OSF Commerce at a networking event in 2018 led to meeting Gerry Szatvanyi, the CEO of OSF, while at Salesforce Connections in Chicago. Conversations developed, both of us being open to overcome our current challenges, but also about the opportunities we could see together.
Blueleaf joined the OSF Global Commerce Alliance early in 2019 giving us the opportunity to go for larger opportunities. An opportunity arose with Gatwick where a joint pitch with Blueleaf and OSF proved successful at winning the client together. This showed we could work together and the acquisition of Blueleaf by OSF seemed to be the perfect route with our UK positioning in the world of Salesforce.
So right now, we have just been acquired by OSF. We have folded the UK OSF team into ours and over the next few months, we will rebrand Blueleaf to OSF Commerce UK, to aid with clarity in the marketplace.
I'm super proud of the team at Blueleaf. We have some amazing people that have been with us over the years. Duncan, Chris, Peter, Sarah and Rob have all been with us for well over 10 years each, and there are a range of years in between for others in the team.
This is just a very short snapshot of a rolling journey with Blueleaf. It now feels that with the support of OSF we're in the perfect place to scale this UK delivery centre and I'm really excited about the new part of the journey.
For all that have been involved with the Blueleaf journey so far, thank you so much. Here’s to the future of OSF Commerce UK.”