Goodbye to ‘Not on the High Street’
The Garden House partnership of 6 years with ‘Not on the High Street’ has come to an end. This unfortunate decision is not mine but has been taken by ‘Not on the High Street’ because I no longer fit their criteria, apparently.
The decision is all the more astonishing because it is not from lack of trading which was plentiful and increased year on year. My annual sales were almost £20,000 so it’s a devastating loss of revenue for me.
To quote ‘Not on the High Street’ – “it’s not about sales, it’s about brand management and image”. Well maybe that’s where I have been going wrong for 30 years in retail and event management.
‘Not on the High Street’ was started in 2008 by Holly and Sophie, they had the brilliant concept of a website that would represent small businesses that were selling from home, who could not afford retail premises or a high street presence. There is so much talent in this country and so many people making original products at home, the ‘Not on the High Street’ website gave many of us a leg-up onto a trading platform, an online shop front and an online shop window, nationwide, for some worldwide. Once signed up you become a partner and, although they charge a large joining fee and whopping 25% commission on each sale, they do all the advertising, SEO, PR and coverage. Fair enough.
‘Not on the High Street’ chased me for two years wanting The Garden House to join. The Garden House brand ticked all their boxes with unique products, good quality, hand made, unusual, useful products made in the UK (mostly made in the kitchen). I resisted until 2010 but then joined and have reaped the benefits ever since. There were always hoops to jump through as time progressed but I have done everything they have asked and remained loyal to ‘Not on the High Street’ for 6 years.
‘Not on the High Street’ then set an unreasonable demand at the worst time of year and the outcome has been disastrous. Rejection and injustice is hard to take. They’ve declared before tea.
In November 2015 ‘Not on the High Street’ sent out an email, non personalised as always, to announce their new Curation Policy meaning that if you didn’t change your entire shop front, text, photos, stock, image, to fit the new criteria for the ‘Not on the High Street’ website then your partnership would be terminated, your store front would be closed and you had until the end of January to do so. There were links to Youtube videos, these were not only patronising but appallingly edited, the girls looked bored, failed to make eye contact with the camera and spoke in deathly monotones about “Fashionable Fiona’s”. There was yet another seminar of almost an hour when he could have said all the relative points in 10 minutes! These, if you stood any chance at all of surviving, had to be watched/endured and were corporate speak at it’s worst.
For most of the year that process would allow plenty of time but not for retailers around Christmas, their busiest time. In January and February all the trade shows happen, the buying happens and then in March the new stock arrives, goes into shops, is photographed and applied to websites. My point is that at that time of year there simply is not much time to spare and pointless spending hours and hours updating websites when you haven’t got the stock to sell. If the products physically aren’t in stock you cannot put them up for sale, customers get cross when they can’t have things immediately. Has the timing of this project been a coincidence? I don’t think so.
Then followed a series of emails to and fro. I was stating my case and asking for more time, to no avail. It makes me laugh to remember that at the bottom of each faceless email from ‘Not on the High Street’ there was a box that appeared to be linked, it wasn’t, it said “Talk to us” … HOW? It has never been easy to talk to ‘Not on the High Street’, they are too busy/don’t have the staff/don’t have the time, they advise you to go via links on the CMS and someone will respond soon. Oh yeah? Brick walls are easier to converse with.
I agree that shops and storefronts do need a shake up, stock needs a clear out, it is essential in retail to create a new look and to keep things fresh. ‘Not on the High Street’ online products are endless repeats on a theme, very dull, unoriginal and many can be found on the high street – at cheaper prices. Take Draft stoppers for instance – there are 2 pages of draft stoppers – all the same, with small variations yes but nevertheless all the same. My draft stoppers are completely different, they work, they are half the price of the others and they bring in many sales for me. Now they’re gone.
Because of the high commission taken by ‘Not on the High Street’ prices are inflated to cover costs, they have to be. My advice to anyone who respects good value for money is to shop elsewhere. At least do price comparisons. Contact the traders direct, you will probably get a much better price.
Having promised to allow access to the CMS for 30 days they have removed all my excellent customer reviews and comments. This really rubs salt into the wound and is an appalling way to behave.
So why has ‘Not on the High Street’ taken this line? Why dismiss a successful partner who is creating sales and making money? It defies logic. You cannot survive in business on image alone. Holly and Sophie’s ethos doesn’t seem to have relevance anymore.
‘Not on the High Street’ have sold their souls to the corporate devil.