What turned ASOS online store into a global ecommerce giant?
The online store ASOS has become a global ecommerce company with around 60% of its business coming from abroad. Offering a fully localized buying experience to their key international markets was the cornerstone of ASOS’ ecommerce success.
This article explains the key elements of ASOS’ global success to help online retailers take their ecommerce brand to the next level.
ASOS: British online retail giant
ASOS, a British fashion giant, is classified as the best online shopping site in the UK and overseas. Positioning itself as a “global online community of fashion lovers”, it has built a loyal customer base across the world.
The source of ASOS’ success, a global ecommerce company, lies in:
- ongoing investment in technology
- focus on growth
- accessibility on mobile devices
- international markets.
ASOS’ global strategy was spot-on. An irresistible part of its value proposition was free worldwide shipping and free returns.
The company expanded internationally at an impressive rate within a short period of time.
Warehousing and delivery solutions have been ASOS’ priority. Distribution efficiencies and delivery options enabled the company to ship to numerous international destinations across the globe within 48 hours.
Sometimes it was quicker than domestic retailers in some countries.
Further, ASOS understood the importance of adapting their website and activities to local markets.
For instance, after launching a dedicated Russian website in May 2013, ASOS observed subsequent strong growth in this territory. Local language customer care, social media activities and a dedicated express delivery solution were factors that helped to build a strong position on the Russian marketplace.
Expanding your ecommerce brand internationally: going through ASOS reports
The reports published on ASOS’ website, dating back to 2007, are evidence to the company’s spectacular growth on international markets.
According to the Chief Executive’s Statement from ASOS’ Annual Report & Accounts (2007), international revenues grew by 158% in the year to £4.5 million, accounting for 10.5% of sales.
On the basis of the report from 2010, over the course of 2009/10, international sales are said to have increased by 95% to £63 million. The company shipped to 167 countries globally from its distribution hub.
According to the 2013 report, ASOS delivered to 237 countries and territories.
Its international strategy included:
- dedicated websites in strategic country markets (e.g. the UK, US, France, Germany, Australia and Russia)
- in-country teams and locally-relevant product offers
- payment methods
- delivery options.
Much of its growth was driven by strong performances in the countries where ASOS had dedicated websites, for example in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
When it comes to 2014, international retail sales went up by 22% (UK retail sales up 35%). International retail sales accounted for 61% of total retail sales.
The company continued expanding their reach by improving the ASOS experience internationally. The main focus was put on removing barriers, e.g. related to delivery speed and payment methods.
Among the many improvements and additions to international delivery solutions were:
- 4 new international carriers set up for shipments to Germany, Australia and a few other countries
- a new French returns solution via LaPoste
- fully tracked drop-off at more than 13,000 post offices and outlets
- a new warehouse in Germany to serve local buyers.
ASOS continued logistics investments in their international warehouse infrastructure. Later on the focus was also put on improved technology platforms, especially local language mobile sites.
ASOS: the ecommerce success story in a nutshell
Free worldwide shipping, distribution efficiencies, ecommerce localization and the overall international online sales strategy have turned ASOS into a truly successful online store on a global scale.
ASOS’ success story has a powerful takeaway for online retailers who wish to expand their business on international markets:
Serving international buyers a feel-at-home, localized buying & shipping experience is a golden recipe for the successful expansion of an ecommerce brand.
Taking care of your international ecommerce buyers
ASOS has proven that one of the key elements of international ecommerce success is a good shipping strategy. Efficient logistics positively impacts pricing, order quantities, customer loyalty and average order values.
A good shipping strategy equals:
- shipping solutions efficient/cost-effective for the retailer
- shipping options/costs attractive for the buyer.
High shipping costs are a valid reason why buyers are not happy with their online shopping experience and decide to abandon their shopping carts. This is how a bargain can turn into a bad deal, putting potential buyers off.
Webinterpret has observed that if the shipping price is too high compared to the product price, it’s not likely to sell.
For example, if the buyer orders £10 worth of goods and has to pay £5 for shipping, shipping is 50% of the order price! The total price may still be attractive, but a lot of psychological resistance is likely to arise.
Shipping prices can be genuine deal killers, even in the case of the most attractive prices. Hence, consider how much of the shipping cost you can put into your product price. Free shipping is all the rage and ASOS made the most of it.
But it may not always be easy to ship items for free everywhere. Compared to shipping within your domestic market where free shipping can be offered more easily, waiving shipping costs for your international customers can be more of a challenge.
But the good news is that you can still offer very competitive shipping rates and optimize your international shipping.
Webinterpret’s ecommerce localization
At Webinterpret we offer an ecommerce solution that enables you to offer a fully localized buying experience to your international customers. The solution translates & localizes your online store for international markets, improves your buyer acquisition & conversions and ensures you’re compliant.
The Webinterpret ecommerce solution:
- provides you with the high quality translation & full localization of your ecommerce store
- helps you drive & convert international buyers
- offers a fully localized, secure and hosted international checkout process that enables you to accept payments in 25 currencies
- reduces shipping friction & delays
- helps you stay on top of customs compliance, tax & duty calculation and customs documentation
- improves the efficiency of your workflow & your customers’ experience.
In a nutshell
ASOS has become a true ecommerce success story. An efficient worldwide shipping strategy and ecommerce localization have played a major role in ASOS’ global expansion.
For global-minded ecommerce brands it’s important to adapt global versions of their stores to local markets, offering the buyer a localized buying experience.
This way, they can increase their level of competitiveness to that of local retailers. Using an experienced cross-border partner definitely facilitates achieving that.
Download the guide to international growth strategies for your ecommerce brand