Notonthehighstreet is one of the online retail giants of today.
With a promise to offer unique gifts for every occasion, the online marketplace has people from all over the world logging on to find the perfect product to gift a loved one.
Since the beginning, jewellery has been an important part of the business, with many looking for pieces they can personalise and make their own.
In fact, at certain times of the year jewellery can make up 40% of business.
Here, Notonthehighstreet’s head curator, Francesca Pittaway, reveals how jewellery keeps this online marketplace at the forefront of the gifting market.
Could you tell me a bit about yourself, how long you have worked at NOTHS and what your job as head curator entails?
I have worked at NOTHS for almost four years and was a huge admirer of the brand before I joined. It was always my go to place to find unique pieces and thoughtful gifts so I jumped at the chance at an opportunity to work here. My role sits within our ‘product and inspiration’ team and I lead a team of curators, all experts in their category, whose purpose at NOTHS is to ensure the right products are developed, exposed and promoted through our various channels. We are always on the hunt for products that best champion the brand, and also work to provide inspiration, advice and guidance to our partners on product development opportunities that we identify and think our customers will love.
What would you say is the best part of your job as head curator?
I get to be part of such a creative team each day. Whether we’re coming together to share inspiration from our insight and ideas for new products, or getting to see new and unique products that have been handcrafted with love by our talented partners, the excitement of seeing that creativity come to life never gets old.
What are some of the challenges you face in your job?
The retail market has been extremely challenging for some time now and one of the challenges we face is the amount of brands that are producing similar products and making them readily available online and through social media. As head curator for notonthehighstreet, I am constantly looking to drive forward and develop our ranges to ensure we remain a brand that is ahead of the curve and one that authentically stands for providing customers with products that have more depth and purpose through co-creation than what they may find on the high street. One of the biggest challenges for my team and I comes in ensuring the small independent businesses who sell on our marketplace and who produce such unique products can keep up with the pace that the e-commerce retail market is moving at, without sacrificing the craftsmanship and creativity that is so integral to our businesses.
Could you tell us a bit about what a typical day at work looks like for you?
One of the things I love most about my job is that no day looks the same. It is so varied depending on the time of year, some days I can be on product photo shoots and other days I am deep in sales forecasting. In a typical day my team of curators will be brainstorming with our inspiration team, sharing predicted trends and product ideas we’ve had, and developing these based on sales analysis and insights. I oversee the product developments the team are working on with our partners to ensure we are guiding development in line with both what the brand needs to remain current and new in the market, and what the business needs to meet our sales targets. Notonthehighstreet is a collaborative, cross functional business and I regularly run projects alongside our creative, brand, marketing and partner management teams so I have touchpoints everyday with them to ensure we are aligned, moving forward and showcasing the very best of our products that champion our brand on every channel.
Since you’ve been working at NOTHS, how has the platform evolved to meet ever-changing consumer demands?
The biggest change has been the increase of customers shopping the platform via their mobile phone and this year we have seen mobile sessions reach 70%, which is 10% higher than in the same period last year. Our mobile platform has evolved to ensure that the brand is brought to life for customers shopping on the move, to inspire them and to be a quick and easy experience for them to use.
What is today’s NOTHS shopper looking for from an online customer experience?
The majority of our customers are looking for new and exciting products that either have a story behind them or allow them to celebrate their own stories. Our customers want to be able to live and give meaningfully and thoughtfully, without having to search for too long!
What jewellery trends have you noticed on NOTHS?
As such an important category for notonthehighstreet, there are so many new and exciting jewellery trends that we have seen introduced and that we have been developing recently. In the last two years particularly, jewellery that has a personal sentiment or an heirloom feel as part of the design has become important to the platform and signet rings in particular have been very popular over the last 12 months. Our partners are able to put their own unique spins on these types of trends too, using their own specialist crafts, and have developed products within their own styles meaning our product range is truly varied.
Using birthstones and precious stones within designs is another trend that has vastly grown and is something that our customers come to us time and again for. Our jewellery partners are so talented and creative at finding new ways to incorporate this into their designs, to keep them feeling new and fresh, whether that’s setting family birthstones within an engraved family tree on a piece of jewellery or representing your star sign through stones.
Of course, the trend for gold and gold-plated jewellery is booming too, and whilst sterling silver has always remained popular with our customer base, we’ve found that it’s been the gold products that have driven traffic to the site predominantly in the last couple of years. However, that is definitely starting to shift again for us here at notonthehighstreet, with silver jewellery being considered more in trend than it has been in recent years and we’ve found that more and more of our partners are now looking to offer the option of different materials to tap into this and cater for all audiences.
What have been some of your bestselling jewellery products over the last 12 months?
Over the years we have found that our bestselling jewellery products are consistently those that can be personalised in some way, with 67% of all orders on notonthehighstreet being for personalised pieces. As our products are not seasonal we see our customers looking to invest in pieces of jewellery with longevity and those that could be described as ‘modern heirlooms’. We find that it is usually the products that are personalised in a more traditional way, for example with names or initials, that have been some our customers’ favourites.
Are you able to respond quickly to consumer trends? If so, how do you go about doing this?
We are definitely able to tap into new consumer trends quickly, which is thanks to the small independent businesses we work with who can be extremely agile and are always engaged with new opportunities. As we’re mostly working directly with the founders of small businesses, there is often no limit to product development, and once a product is created it can go live on the site straight away so new products can be concepted, designed and ready for sale in a very short space of time.
On the whole, how important is jewellery to the notonthehighstreet business?
It’s extremely important. At certain times during the year it can make up to 40% of the business and last year saw a healthy increased growth in sales. For our customers in particular, our jewellery range supports them celebrating key milestones and memories within theirs and their loved ones lives.
What plans do you have for the jewellery side of the business during the rest of the year?
We have a few things up our sleeve! Our next big focus is Christmas and we will have some exciting new products on the platform that we know aren’t represented in the wider market. We’ve also got some top-secret projects launching soon which we’re very excited about, so watch this space.
Lastly, as other companies have started jumping on the popular personalisation bandwagon, how has NOTHS stayed ahead of the curve, particularly with its jewellery offer?
This is something that we’ve had on our radar for a long while, but what keeps us ahead of the curve is our authentic passion to continue to support small independent businesses who are true creatives and artisans. We’re really passionate about finding, developing and showcasing jewellery businesses that look to personalise products in less obvious ways too, and want our customers to be able to find pieces of jewellery that is truly co-created as we know personalisation is so much more than just putting a name on a product nowadays.