What do you need to set up a successful e-commerce activity? Strong knowledge of social media, deep understanding of your target, and a certain style.
When I was working in London, I noticed that during the lunch break some of my colleagues used to shop clothes or accessories online, and it was frequent to receive a package at the office with a skirt or a dress. I found it interesting… since I am not able to buy a pair of shoes without trying them.
But then, this trend started to make sense: you can buy a lot more in shorter time via computer as you can avoid commuting and queues, besides, it’s easier to seek for bargains. And nowadays, time is money.
This shopping behavior is a tendency in the UK. Experts are predicting that the online shopping trend will continue in the age of austerity, as the stay-at-home mentality grows and we search harder for deals – easily found on the internet.
According to The Guardian, “asos.com is perfect for lunchtime browsing”. In case you don’t know ASOS: it is the UKs leading online fashion store for women and men and offers over 50,000 branded and own label product lines.
ASOS has websites targeting the UK, USA, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia and also ships to over 190 other countries. It claims to attract more than 13 million unique visitors to its site per month, with more than 3 million active users shopping from more than 160 countries. Quite impressive, isn’t it?
If you are wondering how it works, have a look at this very well done video.
A few days ago ASOS announced improvements in its delivery services, since they know that missing a delivery or having to wait for a it are the top frustrations (74% of under 30s are more likely to buy from a retailer if they offer click-and-collect services).
That’s why shoppers with Asos are now able to click & collect their purchases. The service allows customers to pick up their Asos orders from a network of more than 4,500 local CollectPlus stores which means consumers don’t have to rely on the Post Office or a neighbour to take in a parcel. Other important retailers such as Boden, Topshop, M&M Direct, Karen Millen, Oasis, and Warehouse are using CollectPlus as well.
In terms of social media strategies ASOS is doing it very well: it was the first fully integrated Facebook Store in Europe by launching an f-commerce shop in January 2011 with the company’s entire 150,000 product catalog.
Back in 2010, people were predicting “F-Commerce” to become the next major online marketplace. However, it seems that Facebook doesn’t drive shopping. An analyst at Forrester Research puts it like this and possibly he’s right: ‘There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop, but it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar’.
Shoppers are not willing to make purchases through Facebook when there are user friendly websites – such as Asos.com – just a click away. ASOS F-Commerce app just makes the shopping experience worse: the page is almost half the size than the main site, and it’s way slower slower (even though it’s still one of the better Facebook apps in the market…).
On the other hand, Facebook can drive valuable traffic to e-commerce sites. For example, in 2010, 1.9% of traffic to Burberry’s website came from Facebook. One year later, this figure rose to 29.1% (we already talked about how great Burberry is doing online, didn’t we?). Even if all the transactions aren’t taking place on Facebook, the brand exposure and publicity value are driving traffic to e-commerce sites.
ASOS is following that precise path: taking advantage of social media in order to drive traffic to the online store. They are also working really hard to build a community on the website: street-style photos are featured in a section of its blog by consumers or potential consumers, where they can vote, comment or buy them.
A little note on the graphic features: remember when we were talking about how Pinterest is heavily influencing e-commerce websites? Take a look at ASOS “Live Feed”: does its style remind you of something?
And of course the brand has a presence on Instagram as well, with 40K+ followers.
Last November, Asos became the UK fashion retailer with the second-highest number of Facebook fans – more than 1.4 million – only falling behind Topshop. ASOS also got over 79,000 more fans in November alone, thanks to online promotions such as links to seasonal sales, regular posting and updating of trend alongside interaction with its fans.
The official ASOS Twitter account is active on a daily basis: it replies to followers’ questions, sends them links to products or makes public its online offers. Moreover, ASOS uses extra Twitter accounts to improve its customer service such as @ASOS_HeretoHelp (to help with any questions or queries) and @ASOSMarketplace (to buy & sell new, pre-owned and vintage fashion).
For example, prior to Christmas, Asos ran a Twitter campaign called the Christmas Jumper Club: people wearing festive sweaters could share their pictures. ASOS posted the best ones and collected images of all the users who were selling festive jumpers to create a photo album on Facebook. Afterwards, in order to attract attention and interest, ASOS Tweeted links to the album and also created the hash tag #ChristmasJumperClub
This campaign potentially reached more than 1.4 million people (counting Asos’s Facebook and Twitter followers).
This was aimed to drive traffic to the Marketplace section of the website; once in here where, people can sell second-hand clothing and accessories online, and eventually modelling the designs themselves.
This kind of campaign is easy to replicate and can be done with a variety of focuses such as Valentine’s Day gifts, engagement rings, etc. Smaller retailers should realize that – outside of man-hours – this sort of marketing has basically zero costs.
And there’s more: the company is going towards social customer service. On Wednesday 23rd of November 2011 between 7-10pm, ASOS offered its consumers a 15 minute ‘Style Session’ via Skype. Stylists gave suggestions and advices on fashion-related queries.
With very little investment, they ran this as an experiment – and have created a flow of friendliness towards the brand online.
This example is just another case of a smart way to see business: ASOS has been able to create something useful and valuable for its customers, based on existing and quite evident user behavior.
After all, their consumers have two main characteristics: they are avid social-technologies users, and – very important thing – they are always time-poor.