Four Things You Need to Know About eCommerce Fashion Darling ASOS

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ASOS which stands for “as seen on screen” began as a small start-up of only three people in London in 2000.  It targeted 20 somethings that were looking for outfits worn by stars on the big screen (movies) and the small screen (TV). Fast forward nearly twenty years later and ASOS generated £1.9 billion in revenue in 2017. Its quick ascent in the fashion world can be traced to a number of clever strategies.

1. Fast fashion becomes faster fashion.  ASOS can move a design from concept to ready for sale on its website in as little as two to eight weeks.  That is even faster than industry leader Zara which takes five weeks or H&M which can take as long as six months.  ASOS will typically create a design in small batches, see how fast it sells then will produce more if there is demand.  Similar to Zara it locates its production facilities closer to market facilitating faster turnarounds. 

2. Similar to Amazon ASOS has reduced some of the friction in online shopping with a try before you buy service.  Unlike Amazon’s try before you buy clothing service where customers can only choose between three to eight items, customers can order as many items as they like from ASOS.  After receiving the items customers have up to 30 days before they have to pay for the items they wish to keep.  Any items customers do not want can be returned free of charge.  According to ASOS CEO Nick Beighton the service is popular with 20 somethings since they often need to carefully manage their cash flow and not having to pay in advance helps them to do that. 

3. ASOS also makes shopping easier with a visual search feature on its app called Style Match. Customers using the feature take a picture of an outfit, upload the photo to the app and then similar items sold by ASOS are returned in search results.  The database underlying the visual search has more than 85,000 items and more than 5,000 items are added each week.  The ability to quickly upload a screenshot of a little black dress from Instagram, for example, into Style Match and get back related items makes shopping easier than ever.  ASOS has a tech team of 900 with plans to add 200 more.  Neiman Marcus offers a similar feature in its app called Snap. Find. Shop.

4. On top of all of that ASOS is also an ethical retailer.  It recently announced that by the end of January 2019 it will stop selling items that have feathers, silk, cashmere and mohair. Previously it took the step of putting a ban on angora, fur, rabbit hair and other products which are sourced from from at risk animals. This move is likely to resonate well with its millennial customers who have an affinity for social causes.

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Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/25/asos-try-before-you-buy-brings-bumper-christmas-sales

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-44533167

https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/9/17092834/asos-style-match-visual-search

http://www.annualreports.com/HostedData/AnnualReports/PDF/LSE_ASOS_2017.pdf

https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-is-getting-faster-2017-5

https://www.businessinsider.com/asos-is-launching-a-us-invasion-2018-1

Tricia McKinnon