Originally established in the UK, ASOS has taken the retail world by storm leveraging the reduced barriers to entry and the ease of global expansion provided by the online channel.
Highly regarded as one of the great global online retailing success stories over the last five years, ASOS’s International Director, Jon Kamaluddin, provided key insights into their success in his Keynote Presentation at the Online Retailer Conference in Sydney today, so for those of you who were unable to attend or wanted to recap here are the key messages.
‘Top 5’ online retailing insights from ASOS*:
1. Place the Customer at the centre of your business
ASOS has been built on a culture that listens to their customers and strategically delivers to their needs. As Jon stated, “we’ve always tried to put the customer at the heart of what we do” resulting in £60M spent per year on free shipping plus stocking one of the largest ranges of fashion merchandise online (ASOS identified early on that range and free shipping are the most important factors for their customers).
2. Prioritise Mobile Site over iPhone App
Back in 2009 over 60% of ASOS customers wanted to access ASOS.com with their mobile phone, highlighting the need to prioritise m-site development over mobile apps. The benefits of m.asos.com over an app include greater customer reach, faster learning ability, quicker release cycle and ultimately a stronger return on sales and profits This is a key take out with most local and global retailers incorrectly focusing on app development to deliver a potential richer functionality but ultimately losing out on commercial gains.
(Australian retailers better act quick, recent report highlights 85% of retailers failing to optimise for M-Commerce, if your advertising agency is selling you a mobile app idea with no commercial benefits make sure you ask why?!)
3. Global expansion is not as hard as it looks
As the retail industry in Australia suffers from online competition and spending offshore the key lesson from ASOS is to identify and capitalise on the opportunities in global markets. Jon highlighted that building for 11 languages will give you access to 90% of worlds GDP and that global expansion is not as hard as it looks.
Locally, in Australia, ASOS have recently setup a domestic presence offering free shipping and localised return centres, with Australia now their number 1 country for sales outside of UK – within 2 months the Australian sales have grown to equivalent levels to ASOS’s first year in the UK!
4. Don’t rush to invest in Social Commerce
ASOS have built a reputation for delivering innovative online retailing solutions and were one of the first to launch a Facebook Store that enabled their customers to purchase without leaving Facebook.
The result? Not positive, Jon wouldn’t recommend rushing to get a Facebook store, indicating the investment in social commerce is not delivering as well as expected. Although this comment is not a huge surprise, it is important to keep in mind that ASOS have been very successful in using social media for brand advocacy and they see social media as a key component of their marketing mix.
5. Build for growth
As I stated previously, ASOS has endured enormous global growth over the last 5 years, with over 13 billion unique visitors per month and a UK warehouse the size of 5 MCG’s! The key takeout is to build for growth and ensure your business is agile in structure, systems and processes.
I hope the summary provided some valuable insights, please feel free to let me know your thoughts. If you were at the conference it would be great hear your key takeouts and if there is anything I have missed?
* Big thanks to all the delegates who attended the conference and tweeted live updates on the #orec hashtag. Unfortunately I was unable to attend so I thought this was a good way to learn without actually being there!