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ASOS shows there’s profit in disruption

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Technology forces change on the world at an ever-increasing pace – and retail is one of the cultural areas that is experiencing amongst the most profound of changes.

Fashion retail in particular is suffering perhaps more than others. Research from Kantar shows a continued downfall in sales across the fashion industry, with the likes of Next blaming its £700 million lost over the past year on the ever-changing consumer.

Many fashion retailers are suffering from the pressure of changing consumer habits. Consumers expect so much more from the shopping process and fashion retailers feel this most keenly: with the need for more social and more video interaction, more showrooming, more reviews and more sharing, according to research from Tryzens out this week.

Amazing then how ASOS has done so well. The secret is that it has adapted to changing consumer habits on mobile better than most. Revenues are up 26% and the company is doing really well on mobile – with 66% of traffic coming from mobile and more than 10m active installs of its app and 7.5m new downloads during the financial year.

What ASOS has got right is that it understands its customers better than most and is constantly adapting to their needs – and getting not only the traffic, downloads and everything else, but also the sales that make that all worth while.

ASOS also has the advantage of being online-only. These retailers are already striding ahead of ‘traditional’ retailers in terms of mobile use – perhaps unsurprisingly since online shoppers are increasingly becoming device-agnostic – but still it serves as a real showcase of how the combination of understanding the changing expectations of your customers, the changing role of technology and generally being on the curve with how culture is (rapidly) shifting is the way to do online business.

It is no longer a matter of it yielding good sales, it will be the only way to deliver sales and growth. Understanding that they shop across different channels – not necessarily in a linear order – and that they now use social media to validate or vet their decisions. The world of retail has changed and will keep changing, but if you work out how to change with it then you can make it work and make a profit.

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