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Apparel Phenomenon ASOS to Launch Australian Site
ASOS names Australia its second largest market and announces plans to launch a localised site. What can Australian retailers learn from this pure-play giant?
Described fondly by its Founder (Nick Robertson) as the ‘biggest wardrobe in the world’, global apparel extraordinaire ASOS have announced the launch of a localised Australian site next month.
With the retailer’s international sales accounting for over 50% of its annual sales, ASOS’ move into the local market comes as no surprise, with Robertson identifying Australia as the company’s second biggest market outside of the UK (quoted by The Australian).
“The popularity of this site has been surging for years, and Australia’s risen quickly to become its number two market. The shopping experience at ASOS is outstanding and it’s a devastating sign for the ailing Australian fashion retail industry, particularly smaller players who are going to be impacted severely by the price, convenience and range offered by ASOS,” says Grant Arnott, Conference Director for the Online Retailer Conference & E-Commerce Expo.
With an offering of over 50,000 branded and own label product lines, 1,500 new product lines being introduced each week, 13 million unique visitors* per month, 5.3 million registered users and 3 million active active customers from 160 countries – ASOS has certainly developed a strategy to keep customers all over the world coming back for more.
How do ASOS win?
By ‘restlessly innovating for its customers’. The retailer not only offers a secure and easy place to shop, it takes you beyond the 2D product, offering a rich visual experience, catwalk videos, size specifications, descriptions of materials and that’s just on the product pages!
“ASOS’ success is born from our ability to continually engage our customers through product, service and technology,” said David N Williams, Head of Customer Intelligence at ASOS (quoted by CIO India).
ASOS have successfully created a community to engage with customers via email, social media, mobile and its very own marketplace which supports emerging local designers. It is this attitude and understanding that the online realm offers endless possibilities and no boundaries that has taken ASOS beyond a copycat celebrity clothes site, to the global retailing giant it is today.
However ASOS’ success goes beyond just the online experience, it is the retailer’s continual addition to its product offering, especially with the more sought after brand names, including Diesel, Ted Baker, French Connection and Mango (to name a few). The company is dynamic, continually seeks to evolve it’s offering and work with designers in order to further this mission. The company receiving high praise from Dov Charney, CEO and Founder of American Apparel, which ASOS recently expanded its partnership with:
“American Apparel began as a wholesaler and built its reputation as a brand through high-end boutiques and trendy shops. Collaborating with an independent, forward-thinking site like ASOS is a return to our roots in a way. We’re continuing to explore these options and grow our business through them.”
The retailer is also looking to cement its position within the heart of Australian fashion, with major home grown labels such as Camilla and Marc, Wheels & Dollbaby and Insight to feature among the 50,000 branded product lines to be offered on the local site.
What Can We Learn?
“We know TopShop is coming, and with the expected arrival of Amazon locally within the next year, ShopBop is not likely to be far behind. Online fashion shopping is going to explode, and those who aren’t up to speed with best-of-breed customer experiences are going to die – quicker than we thought,” comments Arnott.
I can hear the collective sigh of ‘here comes another international retailer’ – however, ASOS offers terrific learning opportunities for local retailers, to do it bigger and better!
Sue Cook, Managing Director of TAOS Creative agrees, “This additional competition may not automatically be a negative on the local brands.
“Depending on the business model, returns are still back to the UK and the cost to return is higher with overseas shipping, than for localised purchases. ASOS will not be able to offer return in-store, which Australian designers and fashion retailers through their store infrastructure, can take advantage of. If in-store return is not an option, then return freight charges are to Australian destinations.
“Australian retailers also have the opportunity to learn from ASOS in the online fashion marketing, without making the mistakes that an early adopters have. Experience and usability initiatives such as catwalk videos, online magazine for tablet readership, email marketing with fashion updates rather than straight promo offers are all elements that any Australian fashion retailer can implement into their marketing program, with a likely probability of success.
“In short with ASOS launching in Australia, Australian brands have the opportunity to market and compete online, benefitting from the learnings of the bigger players and the credibility they add to the online retailing category in this country. Instead of spending money wooing and educating the Australian shopper the on the benefits of shopping online… and that may not be so bad after-all!”
Jon Kamaluddin, International Director for ASOS will be presenting the keynote, ‘How ASOS is Winning Tomorrow’s Online Customers Today!’ at the Online Retailer Conference and E-Commerce Expo on Wednesday, 28 September 2011. This is a fantastic opportunity for local retailers to hear from one of the world’s most successful online retailers and learn how to improve their own businesses.
*Figures as at 31 March 2011