Gifts retailer Past Times is hunting for new stores and will ramp up its online offer this year.

Past Times - which currently has 120 shops - opened 25 stores last year and said it wants to open around the same number this year.

The retailer, which implemented online software to help predict customer patterns based on previous behaviour in December, said online sales account for 4% of total sales. Head of ecommerce Adrian Spence said that he hopes to grow this figure to 10% of sales within the next three years.

Spence said that online sales have jumped 16% since the online software - Venda Behavioural Merchandising by Avail Intelligence - was introduced.

The software runs on three of its pages: its search results page, product detail page and basket page. Spence explained: “It uses previous customer journeys to determine

the best other products to show at these points.”

He added: “Having worked at Amazon for seven years prior to joining Past Times, I’ve seen first hand the significant impact that behavioural merchandising has on conversion.”

The retailer can also control some items shown - for example, it may wish to show a particular best-seller regardless of the search or, on its basket page, show lower price add-ons to try to increase basket size.

However, Spence said: “We are using it more for its intelligence rather than second-guessing ourselves.” He hopes to move the software onto more pages and said that it could be used to help merchandise other channels - particularly its catalogue, which it reintroduced at Christmas.

The gifts and novelty products retailer currently stocks more than 1,200 products, 75% of which are exclusive to the retailer.

Spence said he will also seek to add more personalised gifts to the site - an area that it used to carry a large amount of items - such as personalised newspapers front pages for shoppers’ birthdays.

Past Times is owned by private equity firm Epic, which bought the business in 2005.