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Retail Review (IRM52)

As customers and retailers look across all touchpoints rather than siloed channels, so IR retailer reviews look at the entire retailer’s eco-system of website, mobile, the use of digital in store and their overall strategy. Longer in-depth analysis of the four areas can be viewed online at This issue our reviewers examine Very Exclusive.


Joe Tarragano, Director, Transform

It seems that the Very brand has gone from birth to an £800m powerhouse in the blink of an eye and we could therefore assume that Very Exclusive is in safe hands. Shop Direct has been clever enough to recognise luxury and even high street premium is very different from its core. It has added to the management line-up with My-Wardrobe founder Sarah Curran, also bringing in key individuals from Harrods and Harvey Nichols to run buying, beauty, and PR. This team instantly adds experience, credibility and contacts in a part of the fashion sector where managing brand sensitivities and communications are even more critical than usual.

Along with well-qualified leadership, the brand also has access to the Shop Direct customer base and benefits from the successful and advanced platforms, culture, analytics and fulfilment capabilities enabling Shop Direct’s other offerings.

With so many positives underpinning this new offering, if the brands stay willing to embrace democratised luxury and given customers crave it, Very Exclusive will no doubt be the super model to watch.


Nicola Dunlop, User Experience Analyst, User Vision presents a clean and clear user journey when searching for a desired product. The monthly payment service is an enticing offer and so should be embedded further throughout the site, especially within the category page to persuade buy-in from customers who may not invest in high-end fashion otherwise. A deeper and clearer explanation of how the service works should be provided to build confidence in the user to ensure potential customers are clear as to what is involved. Otherwise the navigation works well and great form design has been applied within the registration process.

MOBILE 16/25

Rob Thurner, Managing Partner, BURN THE SKY

Very Exclusive went out with a prediction that by 2015 every transaction would involve a mobile device at some stage of the customer journey. Its responsive site and native apps looks set to deliver against this vision.

Very Exclusive has invested in a mobile optimised site and native apps. Whilst the product ranges accessible by browser and app vary significantly, I’m impressed by some of the functionality of the app, which justifies investing in both platforms. It’s clear VE has a solid understanding of its shoppers, and makes it easy to find, browse and buy. The site and app are heavy on discounting – right from the 10% offer on the homepage, encouraging shoppers to buy now, and pay by instalments.


Reeta McGinn, Associate Director, Javelin Group

With the £100m plus investment over three years into data, ecommerce, personalisation and IT already underway, it’s clear Very Exclusive’s owners Shop Direct are putting their all into their vision to becoming a world-class digital retailer.

Very Exclusive, the “start up with a trust fund” as described by Managing Director Sarah Curran, is wasting no time in putting some of this investment to work. Bursting onto the web to coincide with the launch of London Fashion Week, the brand has been making the most of Shop Direct’s digital technology within its online store.

It has been interacting with prospects and customers heavily through online PR and social media, featuring on leading online magazines and engaging leading Bloggers and Vloggers to raise awareness of its high end fashion edit and by posting a wide variety of rich content throughout all the usual social channels its customers consume. The group has also invested in creating a ‘world class digital publishing’ capability. Shop Direct as a whole has a history of trialling emergent digital technologies on their online stores and these investment and initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be exciting times ahead as Shop Direct continues to invest in creating highly personalised customer experiences across its brands.

‘Store’ refers to digital storefront as well as physical stores with the resulting score relating to the massive use of technology and technology investments supporting the brand.

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