Movers & Shakers Q&A with Jason Weston
Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail
Jason Weston, chief operating officer, Notonthehighstreet.com
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
We are still relatively early in our development at notonthehighstreet.com and in high growth mode, so the opportunities are broad and far reaching. Our UK customers have a high engagement with the brand and tell us they want more from us: more categories, and more products. Our International customers tell us they want more specific solutions and options to meet their needs. Our greatest opportunity is listening to our customers and giving them what they want.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
With so many opportunities, the biggest challenge is working out what to do first and how to do many new things, without losing sight of the core of what makes us special for our customers. High growth brings increasing complexity of scale and ensuring that we invest in supporting that is critical to maintaining the good reputation and trust we have built with our customers.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
Last week we brought together at the Royal Opera House 500 of the small creative businesses that sell on our platform. We shared with them some of our plans, listened to their feedback and gave them an opportunity to meet and share ideas with each other. From the amount we learn from this about our partners and their needs, and from what they tell us they gain from the event, we would have done more of these at a larger scale, earlier in our history.
4. What is the future of the physical store?
It’s not my area of expertise which means I approach this as a customer. I hope retailers with stores bring a lot of innovation to truly connect customers’ experience across channels. It’s the biggest downside for me as a customer today that even across the most advanced retailers in this space, there is so little connection.
5. What will the high street look like in a decade?
Again, I view this as much as a customer as from my position at notonthehighstreet.com. What I hope for is that we start to see more diversity in our high streets. I would love to see more of the amazing creative small businesses that sell on our platform today finding their way to getting a local presence on their high streets, giving these towns a real, unique and differentiated shopping experience.
6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?
Devices will change and platforms will evolve. It almost doesn’t matter which channel is the primary one. For us, and other retailers, to succeed it’s about understanding customers’ needs, whatever platform, whatever device, however they choose to use them. Customers will use different devices at different times to meet different needs. Connecting their experience across these devices and platforms is the way to think about it.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
I was lucky enough to spend 11 years at Amazon and still admire their relentless and single minded focus on customers. Every retailer talks about customers, but at Amazon they really live, breathe and obsess over them. It was really important to me when I left that I joined another company that really had that at their heart, which was why notonthehighstreet.com was a great and natural choice for me.
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?
This question threw me, as I don’t really think of myself as a retailer. I’ve worked in various different types of companies, and in all of them it’s about understanding and meeting customer’s needs. That’s what I consider myself to be doing each day, rather than retailing.
If I was doing something different, I would have loved to have the creative spark of the small businesses that sell on our platform and actually creating and making something unique that is personalised and customised to delight an individual customer.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
I wouldn’t judge or mark us as a business. I don’t think that from within a company you can be objective enough. Customers independently mark us every day when they review the products and service they received from us through Feefo. With 98% positive feedback on service and 97% positive feedback on products from over 100,000 authenticated customers, we can say we are doing okay, but there is always a lot of scope and opportunity to improve.