Ahead of his appearance at IRX 2013, Robert Moss, CMO, SecretSales – one of the UK’s leading online, designer fashion flash sale websites – outlines how mobile and social technology is helping reshape how the company does its very particular kind of business
Like many other online retailers, the success behind our business, SecretSales , can largely be attributed to the continuous rise in demand for online retailing. However, over the past year, it has been our ability to adapt to new technology, specifically within the smartphone and tablet domain which has greatly increased our sales figures and membership base.
As UK retail figures showed at the beginning of the year, online was King of Christmas in 2012. Figures from IMG Capgemini e-Retail Index showed that consumers spent a staggering £78bn on online retail sites during last year alone, a year-on-year growth of nearly 18 per cent.
However, it’s not just the online results but the new mobile figures which retailers should really sit up and take note of. Capgemini confirmed that visits and sales to online retailers from either a smartphone or tablet device were nearly four times higher than the year before. Furthermore, Dixon’s recent announcement that their tablet sales were ‘phenomenal’ over the December trading period indicates that the trend for m-commerce will only continue to increase throughout 2013.
We set up the business five years ago when we noticed a rise in similar sites in France. Since then we have gone from strength to strength seeing our turnover increase from 2 million to 20 million at the end of 2012. Furthermore, our membership base has now reached a pivotal 2 million members making us one of the UK’s most popular flash sale websites. One of the key ways we are able to attract significant numbers of shoppers to the site is due to our wide range of discounted designer items. However, our business model which offers sales on particular items for a limited amount of time, also helps shoppers who may be out and about to make that final purchase on their mobiles and tablets as timed sales come to a close.
Mobile and tablet sales from the site are now absolutely crucial to how we operate and currently make up 25 per cent of our overall sales. In order to maximise on this particular stream of revenue, in September last year we decided to launch our first SecretSales TV advert. The advert proved to be a huge success and we saw mobile traffic to the site soar. We enjoyed a 162 per cent increase in sales from mobile devices alone during that period which was a direct impact from consumers having instant access to the site without having to move from their sofas.
Dual screening is another area businesses must be aware of and use to their advantage. It is now only a matter of time before the next big technological advancements come to our screens allowing consumers, for example, to connect their phones and TV’s so that they can be directed to websites through TV adverts.
Investing in a team who can identify and monitor these new trends is a pivotal part of our business strategy and a factor we strongly recommend other businesses consider when looking to branch into m-commerce. In 2012 SecretSales made key appointments in the technology division increasing the department by 500 per cent in size. Following our extensive investment in new technology, this team is now due to deploy a sophisticated behavioural CRM strategy in 2013, dramatically improving relevance of email and mobile content for our customers.
The recent demise of a number of the high street’s most recognised brands, including Jessops and HMV, is a clear lesson to those in business who want to succeed in an extremely challenging market. Failing to take the internet seriously when it first launched and ignoring a new era of digital media, has ultimately led to the loss of many well-respected high street brands. Nevertheless, many businesses both in the UK and overseas are still turning a blind eye to the warning signs and not adapting to suit the changing habits of their customers.
2013 will be the year of m-commerce and retailers must be willing to adjust and face the challenges it will bring head on or ultimately they will risk collapse. For any business, particularly SMEs, m-commerce does pose a number of difficulties both technologically and also financially. However, alongside a clearly thought out marketing plan and thorough market research, the benefits will certainly outweigh any initial pain.