Liz Willmore, Head of Cross Site at notonthehighstreet.com on bringing together independent, small UK businesses and offering a route to market to help them do battle with the high street giants

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Liz Willmore is Head of Cross Site at notonthehighstreet.com, the curated online retailer that allows users to browse a variety of individual sellers, each of which has been carefully chosen to inspire shoppers looking for style, originality and quality, but who never seem to find it on the high street. Notonthehighstreet.com is one of the most high profile e-commerce businesses in the UK and has experienced explosive growth since the company was founded in 2006. The site brings together independent small UK businesses, offering a route to market for thousands of designer-makers and small businesses that otherwise struggle for custom or lose out in the wholesale battle with high street giants.

Liz Willmore

Liz Willmore

“…We have 5000 partners on the site selling over 150,000 products, ranging from home and jewellery to art and baby products. We’re signing new partners up at a rate of 20 a week so we expect this figure to grow considerably by this time next year!..”

Please can you tell us about your career to date and what made you decide to join notonthehighstreet.com?

I have always worked in retail and had a passion for ecommerce and beautiful product. I worked at Liberty for four years from when they first launched their e-commerce site. It is an incredible place to work as everyone is so passionate about the brand and the product. I moved on to L’Oreal to launch the ecommerce and digital strategy for YSL Beauty and Giorgio Armani Beauty. It was a big change going from a relatively small company to a global one.

Notonthehighstreet.com was the perfect next step for me. I love working with such a range of partners and products, and the team are incredibly dedicated. It is a very exciting time to work here as we are growing so rapidly.

How has notonthehighstreet.com become a route to market for designers / makers?

Notonthehighstreet.com gin in a teacupBefore notonthehighstreet.com there was little available for small businesses looking to sell their products online. Though many were offering high-quality, desirable products to an audience genuinely hungry for them, they were selling through highly outdated, labour-intensive means (fairs, at-home sales).

Notonthehighstreet.com provides these small businesses with a route to market, putting them in front of relevant and engaged customers, as well as providing the focused business support they needed to grow.

Working with 5,000 inspirational small businesses helps us feel inspired and motivated on a daily basis, and notonthehighstreet.com exists to give them the chance to determine their own future by doing something they love, working on their own terms – perhaps for the first time in their lives.

What sort of designers / makers do you work with and what is the range of products covered?

We have 5000 partners on the site selling over 150,000 products, ranging from home and jewellery to art and baby products. We’re signing new partners up at a rate of 20 a week so we expect this figure to grow considerably by this time next year! It’s exciting to be part of a rapidly growing brand that is so well loved by consumers.

How would you describe the notonthehighstreet.com brand?

Notonthehighstreet.com personalised-rose-gold-stretch-bead-bracelet-350-x-300Notonthehighstreet.com offers consumers outstanding, unique, design led products from UK based businesses, designer makers and entrepreneurs.

We offer the most innovative and original items, focused on high quality and range variety. We’re also here to offer small businesses that might be small now, the opportunity to grow through an online platform, so they can trade more efficiently and enable their products to ‘speak’ to the millions of customers visiting our website.

What’s it like for a small business trying to secure the necessary finance?

We understand that when you’re an independent designer maker or a small creative business, often every penny counts and there isn’t always budget for marketing or PR. We work with our partners to offer them access to our multimillion pound marketing and advertising channels which allows them to focus on making their beautiful and unique products.

In there any such thing as work / life balance, or is this a myth?

Of course! I have learnt over the years to switch off in the evenings. Not my phone though… I am still working on that. I am getting married in July next year so I adjust to that job in the evenings and weekends!

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Notonthehighstreet.com framed-personalised-photo-book-300-x-300You have to be very reactive to work in e-commerce, things can change dramatically day to day – so I have learnt to make decisions quickly.

Also you are only as good as your team. Hire people who have skills that you don’t and empower them.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I have been very lucky in my career so far and have loved every company I have worked for. I am not one to look back on the past, just learn from things and do them differently in the future.

What is next for notonthehighstreet.com?

Notonthehighstreet.com is only just getting started and we’re so excited to push our business to the limits. We’ll definitely be expanding further and further internationally, having launched notonthehighstreet.de in September 2014, showcasing the most unique products from Germany’s extensive community of creative independent businesses and designers.

We’re looking to expand next year, enabling people around the globe to choose a life less ordinary.

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