Notonthehighstreet.com, the “leading curated online marketplace connecting the best small creative businesses with the world” has raised $27.65m in a Series E round led by Hubert Burda Media.
The start-up, which was founded in 2006 by entrepreneurs Holly Tucker MBE and Sophie Cornish MBE, and reached £158m in sales in 2016, a CAGR of 135% since launch, is based in “Silicon upon Thames”, in Richmond, South West London, and employs 200 staff.
Index Ventures, Industry Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures also participated in the round.
Notonthehighstreet.com, which has posted an impressive 10 consecutive years of double digit sales growth, says it will use the funds to ramp up investment into its disruptive innovation, marketing and operations, which connects more than 5,000 retail partners to customers to help them scale their businesses, as well as continuing to build out its gifting offer, adding extra categories and improving the customer experience, and opening up partner access to new markets in line with its “international vision”.
The company recently made a number of hires in key positions, which include appointing Simon Belsham, formerly an Online Director at Tesco, as CEO, retail veteran Darren Shapland as Chairman and Hannah Webley Smith as Customer Director. Belsham commented on the raise: “it has been an incredibly exciting twelve months for Notonthehighstreet.com, marked not only by this new investment but another year of strong growth and several significant senior hires that put strong foundations in place for continued success.”
Notonthehighstreet.com have also launched a flagship programme for start-ups, PitchUp, which helps retail and design start-ups pitch products to the marketplace, as well as launching a “Passion for Pattern” project alongside the University of the Arts (UAL), through which artists at the University can have their designs featured on the site.
The firm also reveals that “experiential gifting” is its fastest growing sales category having recorded 100% growth in the past year, and therefore the company will look to “broaden the range of memorable experiences it offers”, and “continue to unearth and bring to the site highly innovative products made using cutting-edge design techniques”, citing the work of recent Partners Dot One, who use DNA chains to create personalised designs, and Chisel and Mouse, who employ sculpting and moulding techniques alongside CAD and 3D printing to create unique product ranges.
Last year the company shipped to 154 countries worldwide, who jointly accounted for 5% of sales. Notoriously early adopters when it comes to shopping online, Notonthehighstreet.com will doubtless be hoping that the rest of the world follows the UK’s lead.
Notonthehighstreet.com says it will also be one of the first in the world to fully integrate Apple Pay into its site, making it “even more convenient, quick and safe for customers to shop online.” The payment method has already been integrated into their mobile “Gift Finder app”, which has helped drive a 200% increase in sales conversions, the company has revealed.
The business is also keen to increase the number of “experiential projects” it participates in after the success of Open Door, the first project it ran which helped bring consumers closer to Partners and their products through “physical manifestations of the online marketplace” – the company say that this will be a “key lever in the marketing mix for the future”. The next such event will take place at Stylist Live in October 2016.
Hubert Burda Media are based in Munich, Germany; the international technology and media specialists own 540 brands and products, which together have over 175m users and around 60 million paying customers.
Burda is active in markets in Europe, the US, and Asia, across 19 markets, and uses Burda Principal Investments, its venture capital arm, to provide growth capital to digital ventures in all of the regions where the company is active. Burda has been invested in Etsy.com since 2009, and with 10,000 staff, is one of Germany’s largest media organisations.
Let’s get Digital!
Curated marketplace aggregators are one of the internet’s greatest inventions, it seems, giving smaller businesses and start-ups the opportunity to showcase their products to a much wider audience than would be achievable through their own websites or physical stores.
The big question is, can they build a big enough following and attract enough investment to become as ubiquitous as their behemoth, indiscriminate digital car-boot sale cousins, Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.
Much will depend on how discerning the public wish to be when shopping online; and of course, as Notonthehighstreet’s “Experiential” strategy seems to prove, nobody should underestimate the clout of the old fashioned physical store, either.
Bricks, Clicks and good taste – today’s shoppers are spoiled for choice.