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Editor's Comment: Agile Asos keeps customers coming back for more

In my comment last week, I emphasised that, to succeed in this challenging market, bricks-and-mortar retailers must have great store design, good customer service and well-targeted product.

This is underlined again by our Hit or Miss feature this week, which looks at the menswear sector. Although Hit or Miss highlights some excellent examples of multichannel retailing at its best, pureplay fashion etailers continue to lead the field in innovation and growth.

This week, Asos revealed that its sales soared by 37% year on year to £911.5m in the six months to 28 February. Missguided and Boohoo have been on a similar trajectory: Boohoo, which will report its full-year results on 26 April, expects group revenue to have grown by 50%.

Smaller online players such as footwear etailer Public Desire and PrettyLittleThing (now 66% owned by Boohoo) have also quickly gained traction. And, of course, Shop Direct continues to make great strides.

Pureplay etailers have a clear advantage: the absence of stores. They do not have to worry about rents, business rates and property overheads.

The agility that is granted by slick back-end systems gives etailers an advantage

Moreover, online players are often young in comparison with their high street counterparts – Asos is one of the eldest at 17 years old.

They do not have the legacy systems of more mature retailers and,while the latter try to integrate new technology with outdated systems, the pureplay etailers are racing ahead.

The agility that is granted by slick back-end systems gives etailers an advantage. However, pureplays are not without their challenges – the absence of stores removes the opportunity to get the brand in front of passers-by, so marketing opportunities have to be found elsewhere.

This is something Asos has mastered. Its innovative digital and social campaigns are perfectly suited to its target audience. The culture at Asos has always been built on a “fail fast” mentality,which has allowed it to constantly test and learn – and react swiftly to shifts in consumer behaviour.

But as with the successful high street players, product is key, and Asos has a great mix of brands alongside its own lines. It appeals to its target market and keeps them coming back for more.


Don’t miss Drapers Digital Festival

Join the world’s biggest gathering of ecommerce and digital fashion retail professionals for a day of talks, debates and insight followed by a glittering Drapers Digital Awards awards gala dinner. To be held on 25 April at the Hilton London Bankside. 





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