With several showrooms across the UK and a strong eCommerce presence online, Direct Fireplaces has been successfully supplying customers with Gas and Electric Fires, Fireplaces, and more recently Media Walls since it was established in 2004.

The brief

The strategy

The process

The results

The company's mission is to make selecting and buying a new fire or fireplace as hassle-free as possible for every shopper. However, Direct Fireplaces didn’t fully understand how they fitted into the competitor landscape, how their website was being perceived and used by potential customers, nor a full understanding of customer demographics.

A strategic research project commenced with the aim of analysing the online presence and marketing strategies of their biggest competitors, a user experience review of the Direct Fireplace online store, and an insight into the customers who are converting and somewhat as importantly, users who were not.

The aim was simple. What are others doing that we’re not, and how can we optimise our current website and marketing efforts for a better return on investment?

We combined three strategic research pieces into one bespoke project:

  • Competitor Analysis
  • User Experience Audit
  • Customer Insights

In order to fully understand the requirements of the client. We initially sat down to discuss the pain points within their business, their objectives, and what they believe they could be doing better. With this information, a scope was created and agreed upon.

Competitor Analysis

After carefully selecting the correct competitors to analyse, we reviewed their online marketing activities and websites to gain a fuller understanding of the strategy and tactics they were using within the sector. From this, we identified a number of recommendations that Direct Fireplaces could explore to elevate their marketing and become more competitive.

User Experience Audit

Utilising a mix of competitor research combined with years of eCommerce experience a full User Experience Audit was carried out to identify ways that Direct Fireplaces could improve key metrics across their website. The focus was primarily on conversion rate and average order value as these metrics were identified to provide the greatest uplift in revenue. Recommendations were made on mobile and desktop design, page speed, and new features that could be used to increase website performance.

Customer Insights

Google Analytics, Google Ads, and META data were collected and analysed to identify the revenue generated through different demographics, including but not limited to age, gender, and location. Once fully understood, the analysis along with recommendations was presented back to the client’s paid media teams to align proposition messaging, creatives, targeting, and their advertising budget with acquiring customers who are more likely to convert.

Presentation & Actions

Once complete, the research project was presented back to the Direct Fireplaces team over a nice warm cuppa. The recommendations that were provided were then discussed in detail, as to prioritise which actions the client should take in the immediate future to gain an advantage over competitors.

Velstar's strategic research transformed Direct Fireplaces, delivering game-changing insights that drove remarkable improvements. Highly recommended by Simon Haughton, their Marketing Director, as their invaluable partner for success.

Strategy and Performance

Through strategic efforts, Direct Fireplaces achieved remarkable results. In just three months, they saw a significant 62% reduction in their cost-of-sale ratio, accompanied by strong year-on-year volume growth.

Competitor Mapping for Enhanced Positioning

Direct Fireplaces leveraged competitor mapping insights to refine their strategy and improve their competitive positioning within the market.

Enhancing Creatives for Website and Social Media

Valuable research led to the identification of an opportunity to enhance Direct Fireplaces' website and social media creatives. They now utilise competitor benchmarking to thoroughly review and improve their new creative materials.

Leveraging Growth Opportunities on Pinterest and Instagram

Direct Fireplaces recognised the growth potential of Pinterest and revamped its profile with engaging content, resulting in a 15% increase in monthly profile views. They also optimised their Instagram content by adapting reels for stories, facilitating the user journey.

Unleashing the Power of Digital PR

Direct Fireplaces tapped into the untapped brand awareness potential of digital PR, resulting in editorial content featured in prestigious publications such as The Times and Ideal Home.

Streamlining User Experience and Assistance

Direct Fireplaces responded to competitor research by developing a seamless user journey, addressing technical questions, and creating a new portal for users to easily find the right products.

Boosting Performance Through Optimised Paid Media

Direct Fireplaces optimised their paid media activities for purchase revenue, resulting in improved performance across all channels.

  • 302% increase in Conversion Revenue (July 2023 - November 2023 compared with the previous period; January 2023 - July 2023).
  • 70% increase in ROAS (July 2023 - November 2023 compared with the previous period; January 2023 - July 2023).
  • 18% reduction in Cost per Conversion (CPC) (July 2023 - December 2023).
  • 30% increase in Conversion Rate (CVR) (July 2023 - December 2023).
  • 92% increase in Average Order Value (AOV) (July 2023 - November 2023)

Igniting success for Direct Fireplaces through strategic research & analysis.

Direct Fireplaces, a top supplier of Gas and Electric Fires, Fireplaces, and Media Walls in the UK, went on a mission to figure out where they stand among its competitors, how their website is doing, and who their customers really are. We dove into a bunch of research, checking out what their rivals were up to, thoroughly examining the user experience on their website, and digging into customer insights. Our goal? To help them spruce up their website, fine-tune their marketing game, and get a bigger bang for their buck.

In addition, though we must also credit the brand’s incredible products, the site has seen the following YoY results:


increase in Conversion Revenue.


increase in Average Order Value


increase in ROAS.


reduction in Cost-of-Sale ratio

I can't recommend Velstar enough! Kieran S-Lawler, their Head of Strategy, conducted a research project for our company, Direct Fireplaces, that was an absolute game-changer. The insights and recommendations they provided were invaluable and we were able to implement them swiftly to improve our overall performance. Their expertise and dedication were so impressive that we didn't hesitate to request another research project, this time for one of our sub-brands. Needless to say, it was another resounding success. We are eagerly looking forward to starting our third research project with Velstar in the new year. They have truly become an invaluable partner in our journey towards success.

Simon Haughton - Marketing Director at Direct Heating Group