ASOS may have recently shuttered its Chinese site, but the British fashion giant is seeing massive success on other fronts. Last week their team reported an 18% increase in pre-tax profits from the end of August through February 29. Total sales, meanwhile, grew by 21%. In the past year, more than 20% of the UK population purchased something from the site.
With all that said, what can ASOS’s success teach other e-commerce companies? Even if you’re not in apparel, here are 5 key takeaways…
1. Technology is one of your most important investments. In order to grow quickly and meet the demands of customers who expect the utmost speed and ease in their shopping experience, you cannot cut corners. This is true for everything from your e-commerce platform to marketing technologies like visual commerce or referrals.
Diginomica has a great article about the work that ASOS has been doing on the tech front. Interestingly enough, they’re the largest UK user of Microsoft cloud services and the largest contributor of open source code to deployment automation technologies. Their CEO, Nick Beighton, calls their software a product of “in-house craftsmanship,” meaning that they enjoy “state-of-the-art architecture.”
Mobile has to be mentioned here. With a young customer base, it’s an absolute necessity to prioritize mobile. One of the ways in which ASOS is doing this is by deploying its upgrades to its mobile app and site before implementing them on desktop. They’ve also been known to use mobile-only promos. The result is that 50% of its customers shop via mobile, generating 60% of the retailer’s overall revenue and 70% of its UK revenue.
2. Celebrate your customers. Just like any other company, ASOS would be nowhere without its customers. The retailer uses its visual commerce platform to showcase their loyal fans. Moreover, they make the display easily navigable by enabling navigation through categories like men’s or women’s apparel, denim, vacation, and more.
ASOS’s visual commerce gallery celebrates the retailer’s customers.
They also have a structured advocacy program to thank their most influential fans for speaking positively about ASOS on social media and elsewhere. The #AccessAllASOS program gives members exclusive benefits and discounts, as well as access to special events.
According to a case study by Traackr, the initial phase of #AccessAllASOS recruited 769 influencers out of over 3,000 applicants. This group generated more than 7,500 positive mentions in three months through a combination of Instagram posts, blog articles, and more.
3. ..and reward them! For the past few years, ASOS has had its own, pared-down version of Amazon Prime–ASOS Premier. For a yearly fee, customers can sign up and enjoy complimentary two-day shipping. For regular shoppers, a benefit like this has been a no-brainer.
This year, though, ASOS launched an official loyalty program called ASOS Rewards. It’s currently in trial mode, just available in the UK, and only offers points in exchange for purchases. The fact that publications like the Daily Mirror, LOOK, and Cosmopolitan have written about it seems to bode well, though.
4. Don’t forget about your employees! ASOS is one of the highest-profile businesses in the B2C world to have a strong employee advocacy program. They achieve this by turning their stylists into social media influencers in their own right, thus thanking them while using them for further reach.
These stylists have tens of thousands of Instagram followers, many of whom are aching to buy the latest trends they spot.
ASOS also has an Instagram account devoted to just behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the team and their models. Speaking of Instagram…
5. It’s obvious, but content and social are crucial. We’d be remiss to not mention the effort that ASOS’s team puts into social media. Their YouTube channel has almost 70,000 subscribers and over 1,000 videos, while their main Instagram account (one of at least a dozen) has over 4 million followers. CEO Beighton also, unsurprisingly, recently stated that Snapchat is “increasingly important” to their success.
In terms of social selling, ASOS is testing the waters. When asked about e-commerce growing on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, Beighton said that the company is trying out “buy” buttons with “several” of these social sites, but wouldn’t specify which.
On its own site, the retailer maintains a style and beauty “feed” with of-the-moment news and tips, as well as a Tumblr-style site called ASOS Likes. They also publish a magazine and a “Big Ideas” podcast. While it’s unclear how much revenue is driven by these content efforts, they undoubtedly help cement the brand’s voice and status.
What else? Of course, ASOS’s team works on much more than just these five tactics, but we have a few suggestions for future projects. Considering how vital Instagram is to them, they should consider an Instagram shopping solution like Shoppic.me, which would allow them to drive traffic directly to product pages from the photo app with no implementation.
Ratings and reviews would be another good fit, especially for a site with absolutely no brick-and-mortar component. They should also think about expanding their loyalty program to cover advocate marketing tactics like hashtagging photos and sharing links on social. It’d be a simple way to further incentivize the social engagement that’s been so successful for them.
One area where ASOS could immediately, dramatically improve is in their use of data. They don’t send personalized emails or do much retargeting. Between resources like “Saved Items” lists and social login, they should, in theory, have enough data to do some truly innovative email marketing. It seems, though, like they only do email blasts that aren’t tailored much to specific recipients.
Even if you don’t sell to a young crowd or aren’t in apparel, you can learn from the greats. In short, ASOS’s success can teach you to invest in your tech, thank your customers and your team, and know thy audience.