ASOS is an eCommerce retailer famous worldwide for its latest fashion and trends in menswear and womenswear. The acronym ASOS actually stands for “AsSeenOnScreen”, although nowadays the brand is better known by its customer-focused mottos. How did ASOS become the UK ecommerce success story within just two decades of operations? Let’s dig in.
ASOS sells 850+ brands alongside its own line of clothing and accessories and ships to 196 countries, making this UK eCommerce brand a global eCommerce success story and fascinating case study. In this post, we’ll go over why ASOS is the absolute eCommerce success story you should copy and how ASOS continues to rule the fashion eCommerce industry, year after year.
The ASOS FAQ for beginners
When did ASOS begin?
ASOS was founded on June 3, 2000. Its founders, Nick Robertson, British businessman, Andrew Regan, a British polar explorer and entrepreneur, and Quentin Griffiths had a vision. Together they invested to create ASOS – the UK’s largest independent online fashion retailer.
How did ASOS start?
ASOS pricing strategy is part of the company’s success. It all started with the aim of selling items seen on TV at a cheaper price point. Thus, the original company name: ‘AsSeenonScreen’. Since this was difficult to fit on a clothing label, ‘ASOS’ was adapted. But, at first, not as a fashion-specific eCommerce shop.
What did ASOS first sell?
That’s right! ASOS didn’t start as a fashion company. In fact, the first product was a pestle and mortar. Later followed a shipment of dresses that was a hit and catapulted ASOS into the eCommerce fashion industry.
Who are ASOS’ main shoppers demographically?
ASOS brands itself as a “global fashion destination for 20-somethings that exists to give you the confidence to be whoever you want to be”. Top selling products categories range from the latest women’s clothing trends to men’s face and grooming products.
Who is ASOS’ current CEO?
Nick Beighton became ASOS’ CEO in 2015. He worked at ASOS since 2009 as CFO. He and his team made a crucial observation and advancement for ASOS in 2010 — customers were looking to purchase via mobile. As a result, ASOS developed a hassle-free, easy to shop mobile experience.
Who is ASOS’ current owner?
Danish businessman Anders Holch Povlsen is the biggest shareholder of ASOS.com. He also owns the international clothing chain Bestseller and is the second-largest in German internet clothes retailer Zalando. Furthermore, he’s the largest individual private landowner in the UK.
What turned ASOS online store into a global eCommerce giant?
Stress-free shopping wins loyalty. ASOS offers its customers free worldwide shipping and free returns! Along with spectacular shipping/return options, the company focuses on distribution efficiencies, eCommerce localization, and a strategic international online sales plan to help scale globally.
What’s ASOS annual revenue?
In 2018, ASOS’ pretax profit was 102 million pounds ($134.5 million), a 28% increase year-on-year. Revenue increased 26% as well, growing GBP 2.42 billion. In the U.K. ASOS increased revenue by 23%, and internationally, 24%.
Is ASOS online only?
Yes. Despite rumors that ASOS is planning to open a physical store, Nick Robertson, the co-founder of ASOS, says that “the idea of opening a store was counter-intuitive”. Furthermore, opening a physical store is more costly than maintaining an eCommerce website.
4 reasons why ASOS is the absolute UK eCommerce success story
ASOS represents a success for online brands. Take their mobile shopping platform for example. From April 2015 to April 2016, over 20% of the UK population placed an order with an ASOS website. ASOS responded by taking a step further and creating a seamless mobile shopping journey for its users. Now ASOS’ customers can effortlessly browse the entire ASOS site on their phones and filter by brand, size, color, and price.
Furthermore, ASOS has implemented notifications to let shoppers know when items of interest go on sale, as well as easy payment methods by adding credit card’s data with your smartphone’s camera!
It all starts with The Customer
ASOS calls itself a “global online community of fashion lovers”. It’s customer-first policies, along with personalized marketing, makes customer engagement and interactions a priority. In turn, ASOS created a strong base of brand-loyal customers.
The focus on customer translates into product usability. This means offering customers easy navigation across its site with options to purchase, ship, and track orders. ASOS constantly surveys its customers on what they are looking for to improve their shopping experience and uses the feedback as part of the UI enhancements. This approach extends into multi-channel shopping. As mentioned previously, ASOS introduced a great mobile app once they identified that customers would be interested in purchasing via mobile.
How to copy: Use your marketing channels to engage with customers on a more personal level. Run surveys, giveaways, and social engagements to get customers to interact with your brand’s products and services. Be sure to collect data along the way, and use an automated marketing platform to re-engage customers with data gathered.
Check out this guide for ideas on how you can build brand loyalty for your business.
ASOS and inclusion
By listening to the trends of a free-thinking and non-conforming Generation Z, ASOS has broken new barriers in the eCommerce fashion industry by introducing what is termed as an ‘all-inclusive approach’. This means genderless fashion. The company is exchanging words such as ‘beauty’ for ‘face+body’ and removing gender-specific sections for clothing and accessories.
Also, ASOS is now featuring only ‘real’ people as models on their site. No more pretentious, air-brushed, photoshopped and unrealistic models!
How to copy: Be bold and face the latest trends that your target audience is currently embracing. If your consumers are young and hip, make sure to market your products in a way that communicates value and relevance. Keep it real and include, don’t exclude shoppers.
Read more about why inclusive marketing is best for your business.
ASOS invests in technology innovation. 24/7.
In 2016, ASOS’ CEO, Nick Beighton, said that technology innovation is at the top of his digital priorities. That year, the company increased its investment in operating resources by 25% to £659 million, with technology in specific increasing to 28% to £24.5 million. The focus? On visual search, voice search and artificial intelligence (AI).
How to copy: How is ASOS accomplishing staying at the leading edge of innovation? By working with technology startups. ASOS opted to partner with a global technology start-up accelerator to co-invest and co-accelerate three fashion tech start-ups. This is something that every company can do for fresh ideas. If eCommerce is your core business, try to stay on top of the key trends that are revolutionizing the way consumers interact with platforms. Instead of seeking immediate profitability, try to budget a part of your spend on testing out new concepts and tools. Who knows? You might just become an early adopter on the next game-changer in the industry.
ASOS automated its international expansion strategy
ASOS offers countless brands to shoppers around the world. At the same time, the brand offers both same and next day shipping. In most in the retail world, this combination means operational and logistical nightmare. Yet, not only is ASOS able to run a smooth operation, it has turned this into part of its competitive advantage.
How did ASOS overcome the operational challenges of warehouse and inventory fulfillment? By investing heavily in technology that helps it automate most of its operational processes.
In 2016, the company added automation and better sortation technology to warehouses. Streamlining logistics and enhancing its warehouse technology, ASOS created what’s called “The ASOS experience”. The brand is among the first retailer to offer same and next day shipping at a reasonable cost – and ultimately offering a better customer experience. The result was satisfied customers and a sizable drop in warehouse costs for the company.
How to copy: On order to make sure that your infrastructure can support business growth, invest in technology, make sure to automate your warehouse technology for optimal efficiency. This is how happy customers become loyal customers.
Don’t know where to start? Look here for ideas.
The key factors that made ASOS an eCommerce success
A truly unique fact about ASOS’ business model in fashion retailing is that it started with eCommerce. It has remained online, growing into a true eCommerce retail giant worldwide.
What is ASOS recipe for its phenomenal online success? ASOS has built a reputation for quality and value by offering its customers fun and authentic products, directly from the brands they offer. With easy and affordable shipping options to almost anywhere in the world, ASOS managed to grow its international appeal.
Here are 3 key success factors that set this brand apart from the competition.
Success factor #1: A (truly) customer-centric culture
ASOS has a built a culture revolving around customer experience. It can be gleaned from its free shipping and return policy, a dream for international customers. Another example is the responsiveness of ASOS customer support, which guarantees customers the fastest possible message response time on their Facebook page (a personalized response in minutes).
Success factor #2: Masters at leveraging social media presence
ASOS gets its customers involved via social media outlets in a unique way. The brand gives shoppers the chance to have their 15 minutes in the limelight by being featured on ASOS’ website wearing their favorite buys. Not to mention, customers can live the life of an Influencer on ASOS’ Instagram feed by posting photos with the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.
Success factor #3: Tailored content (and products)
Furthermore, for ASOS, there is no such thing as general content. The brand tailors everything to market each specific demographic – petite, tall, plus size and even maternity lines. This means, no one is left out or overlooked.
5 mistakes that ASOS could’ve avoided
- Mistake #1: From 2018 to 2019, ASOS launched 200 versions of its website for specific geographic markets to acquire new customers. The plan backfired. ASOS’ site redesign ignored SEO implications meaning that organic searches and keywords rendered close to no traffic. Thus, the company’s pre-tax profits sunk by 87%.
- Mistake #2: In March 2018, ASOS skipped spellcheck and accidentally printed 17,000 plastic bags misspelling the word “online” with “onilne”. They apologized for the mistake and turned the charm up a level saying: “We’re calling it a limited edition.”
- Mistake #3: In 2013, ASOS recalled belts sold on its site. The problem? The buckles were contaminated with radioactive cobalt-60.
- Mistake #4: In 2019, ASOS had to pull a photo from their website after a customer pointed out that the ASOS model was wearing bulldog clips to tighten a dress around her waist!
- Mistake #5: While ASOS has exceptional customer service (most of the time) there is one exception that has gone viral. A Facebook chat in 2016 between an ASOS customer service rep and a customer from Perth asking for a refund for his $1200 order which had reportedly been lost by ASOS’ courier. Instead of explaining in a human-like response that she would like the customer to speak to her via a pm for the protection of the customer’s personal details, the rep’s strange responses raised suspicion that she was in fact, a bot.
Impressive ASOS stats you may not know
- Stat #1: ASOS.com is a global eCommerce company generating almost 60% of its business from abroad.
- Stat #2: According to ASOS annual report in 2013 published on their website, ASOS delivered to 237 countries and territories in 2013!
- Stat #3: ASOS achieved the fastest possible response time in Facebook ever in international retail ~10 mins.
- Stat #4: ASOS currently has 18 million active customers across 240 different countries and territories.
- Stat #5: In the UK, ASOS retail sales reached 861 million British pounds in the 2018 financial year.
For more interesting eCommmerce stats, check out here.
ASOS continues to make magnificent achievements with their eCommerce platform. The company’s success has nothing to do with luck. It is the result of a consistent, brilliant, passionate and exceptionally executed eCommerce strategy which revolves around their customers. This is why ASOS is the absolute eCommerce success story, made in the UK 😉
This case study highlights the most relevant lessons and factors for any eCommerce professional to try out. Don’t take our word for it. Go on and implement a personalized customer-centric experience for your shoppers, engage shoppers on social media, tap into technology and innovation, and utilize marketing automation. Make your own success story.
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