The Full Sob Story Behind the Rewards Points Changes

If you don't already know, we have a nice little Rewards Points system here at Kate's Clothing and as well as earning points for every £ you spend, you can bump them up a few other ways, like writing product reviews. You can get more details of this on our rewards points page if you're interested but back to my point (be warned, I get a little whiny):

When I say we're a small team here at Kate's Clothing, I'm not exaggerating. It's me, plus Katie, who picks and packs most of your orders, organises the stock and gets the products online and Kelly who does the majority of the social media in a few hours a week. So there's 2 and a bit of us, it's a tiny business that's a labour of love with incredibly tight margins.

So I run things as efficiently as I possibly can and automate as much as possible. A while back, I automated reward point additions for reviews. It worked great, customers got their points right away and the app I used had spam and profanity filters, plus it alerted me if anyone was not happy. Off I went on my next task, all pleased with myself. Big mistake! It turns out the spam filters were useless. A few customers cottoned on to this and started writing hundreds of product reviews, merrily scooped up their reward points and turned them into nice new things for the price of a bit of copy and pasting. Now it could well be they thought they were helping. Those 5 stars can really help make an item sell. It's hard to imagine how the one that wrote “.” in every review or the one that did some random bad reviews could think they were helping though. Bad reviews will all but kill a products sales, but I publish every review to build trust and pass on useful information. Even if it was well intentioned, the search engines and most other customers are not at all fooled by reviews that say so little and appear in such quick succession, so actually the reviews did quite a lot of harm to the KC reputation and search engine presence.

I should have spotted them sooner, but with everything else going on, then my kids off school for the Easter Holidays, I was doing the minimum to keep things ticking over and customers happy and didn't spot them for quite some time. It was the wonderful lady from Radioactive Unicorn who spotted them and first alerted me. Sadly by this point, I had been relieved of a couple of thousand £s worth of products. More than a months worth of wages. I'd put it in terms of my profits but I haven't made any in years. (I do take a wage that covers the living expenses for myself and my kids I hasten to add, so don't be shedding a tear or setting my up a charity page or an my behalf or anything).

Maybe people imagine KC is a big corporation with share holders and can absorb the cost of their questionable tactics, but we're ridiculously far from that. So are many of the other companies in the alternative industry (if something does too well it's not alternative any more it's just mainstream). Most of us are tiny businesses with real people, personally running things. It's very hard not to take these things personally, this business is my first baby and it's been that way for 20 years! When someone costs me because they take advantage or commit friendly fraud then it hurts, it's right out of my pocket and it threatens my future.

Anyway, sorry for laying it on so thick, but my mum told me I should share this sob story with you, to give people a small insight into just one of the pressures of running a micro business and that if it gives even just one person pause for the thought, then it's worth it.

I'm so thankful to those of you who have supported my little business over the years and so grateful that I've been able to make a living doing something I love.

Just to cycle back to the rewards points. You can still get rewards points for writing reviews on products you've bought (even if it's a bad review), you just need to drop us an email with links to the product you've reviewed. Honest, genuine reviews do a huge amount to help me, so I've also increased the number of points you get and now you can get extra for including a photo. Thank you so much to the vast majority of you! You're the best!



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