Fashion online retailer ASOS is proving that there is still money to be made in retailing even in these dire financial circumstances. What is the secret of the phenomenal success that ASOS has seen over the last few years?
The business was set up in 2000 and has grown from strength to strength in direct competition to the high street. And in contrast to the high street it has doubled in turnover every year. The real secret of ASOS is that it brings the quality and volume of Oxford Street into your home via your computer.
People who live in Brighton may not appreciate this particular benefit of online shopping because Brighton has such an extensive range of interesting shops. But consider for a minute the millions of people who don't live near a major city where the flagship stores of leading fascias line the high street. People who can't easily get to London will never find some of the styles they see in the fashion magazines. For them ASOS offers a selection of thousands of new outfits at the click of a mouse.
However, this is not the only reason that ASOS has seen growth of 118% when competitors on the high street have struggled to match last year's sales. The web site is a step above most fashion sites in that it really shows the garments off to best advantage – in motion. The video catwalk clips for every item bring the clothes to life and the experience a little bit closer to a shopping trip to Oxford Street.
The site attracted 5.2 million unique visitors in December alone. Considering the entire West End sees about 40 million shoppers over the six week Christmas period this is a good turnout for a fraction of the cost of running a West End shop.
On the site clothes are teamed with accessories and suggestions are made as to what to wear with what. You can even match your choice to the style of your favourite celebrity.
The attention to detail, the merchandise (including pieces from designers like Alexander McQueen and Sonia Rykiel as well high street fashion at high street prices) and most of all the excellent customer service are the secrets of success at ASOS.
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The really interesting thing is that a business like this could be set up for very little outlay and grown gradually over the years with minimal risk and low overheads. That is the real success story and Nick Robertson, the founder of ASOS, is very modest about his achievement but has some interesting plans for expansion (watch this space).
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