Asos – Online Celebrity Style Since 2000
Online Retailor Offering Over 50,000 Branded and Own Label Fashion Products.
View ASOS Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
An Introduction to the ASOS Brand
ASOS, or ‘As Seen On Screen’ as it was originally known, was founded in 2000 by media executive, Nick Robertson as an online-only outlet offering mass produced fashion designs inspired by celebrity style. The turn-of-the century brand has come a long way since then and as of 2011 offers over 50,000 branded and own label fashion product lines across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery and beauty. Approximately 1,500 new product lines are added each week. ASOS own-label items account for about 50% of all sales.
Asos Own-Brand Womenswear – Own-Brand Items Count for 50% of all Sales.
The site is aimed primarily at fashion conscious 16-34 year olds around the world, generating over 13 million unique visitors every month. As at 31 March 2011 ASOS had 5.3 million registered users and 3 million active customers from 160 countries as defined as having shopped in the last 12 months.
ASOS: A Timeline Snapshot
- 2000: ASOS (originally called As Seen On Screen) is launched in June by the Great-Grandson of Austin Reed, Nick Robertson (who remains as the brand’s Chief Executive as of 2011). ASOS is an online-only fashion store selling designer clothing aimed at 16-34 year olds. The brand’s fashions mimic outfits worn by celebrities, allowing its target audience to buy into the look of their favourite celebrities on a low budget.
- 2001: Just a year after the brand’s launch, ASOS PLC Holdings was admitted to AIM (Alternative Investment Market) on the London Stock Exchange. AIM is the London Stock Exchange’s international market for small companies. Companies join AIM as a way to tap into investors capital in the bid to raise money to fund future expansion for expansion.
- 2004: The brand posts its first interim profits with pre-tax profits of £126,000 for the first six months to September compared with losses of £283,000 during the previous period. An increased number of visitors to the site allowed sales to rise 72% to £4.7 million. Also this year, ASOS introduces its own label for women.
- 2005: The brand features a setback when a fire caused by the Buncefield Fuel Depot explosion destroys £4 million worth of stock and closes business for 6 weeks. Also this year, the brand launches ASOS Beauty featuring a range of beauty products, fragrances and accessories from a collection of premium beauty brands.
- 2006: ASOS is the first UK online retailer to introduce a catwalk feature to their site, which features short videos of models in products. This allows customers see how clothes fit and flow, helping to cut down the number of abandoned shopping baskets.
- 2007: The ASOS magazine is launched for free monthly distribution throughout the UK to subscribers. For those who don’t have access to a hardcopy of the magazine, it is also available online, where readers can click and buy while reading. As of 2011, the brand was working hard to further digitize the magazine to make it accessible to an even wider audience. The audience for the magazine is already impressive with 456,000 subscribers, making it the second largest women’s interest fashion/lifestyle magazine in the UK after Glamour magazine. An impressive £3 million is made in revenue from advertising in the magazine alone, however this could eventually become a source of conflict as there is no advertising policy against brands not sold on the site.Also this year ASOS launches its own menswear brand
ASOS Own-Brand Menswear
- 2008: The ASOS outlet is launched, which is the discount branch of the brand – the outlet offers end of line or previous season fashion products at up to 75% off.
- 2009: ASOS launches Little ASOS, catering for babies up to 24 months and girls and boys aged from 2 to 8 years. The collection of over 40 kids wear fashion labels including Diesel and True Religion as well as independent labels such as Cath Kidston. However, little over a just a year later in 2010, the kids range is folded as it was not profitable. CEO Nick Robertson explained that he didn’t want kids to feature in the magazine or on the website’s homepage and without the collateral to promote the Little ASOS offering there was no course of action, but to fold the line. 2009 was also the year that the brand announced the launch of ASOS Life through the social media sites Twitter and Facebook. ASOS Life allows users of the ASOS site to create their own online profile and communicate with other users through forums, groups and blogs. Additionally, the brand launches ASOS Premier, a delivery loyalty scheme for the UK and the ASOS Designer Store, featuring higher priced designer brands such as Chloe, Boutique by Jaeger and J.W. Anderson.
The ASOS Line for Children, Little ASOS was Folded After Just Over a Year in Operation.
- 2010: The brand sees the potential of the mobile market and launches ASOS Mobile, an m-commerce site designed to work across all devices including BlackBerry, Symbian, Android and iPhone operating systems. Also this year the brand improves its international brand profile by launching country-specific sites in the USA, France and Germany. Additionally, the brand launches ASOS Marketplace – which allows users to trade and recycle their wardrobes. Finally a commitment to the environment cumulates in ASOS achieving a carbon neutral company statement.
- 2011: The brand launches its fully transactional Facebook store which allows customers to buy the entire range directly from ASOS without having to leave the social network. ASOS plans to add 1,300 products each week to its Facebook store and hopes that the fewer clicks and barriers to purchase will translate into greater conversions and increased sales. Also this year, ASOS launches the ASOS Fashion Finder, which unusually showcases the latest trends and related products by rival retailers – if ASOS does not have the desired product. Fashion Finder also allows users to share outfits and has sections dedicated to all the recent fashion gossip.
Big Winners: Awards of ASOS
Throughout the brand’s relatively short history, ASOS has received a vast number of awards. Some of these include:
- 2000: ASOS is voted as the Best Trendsetter by The Sunday Times
- 2004: The brand picks up the Best Performing Share Award at the AIM Awards.
- 2005: ASOS picks up the Drapers Award for E-tailer of the Year as well as the Retail Week Awards, Rising Star of the Year Award.
- 2006: The brand once again receives the Drapers Award for E-tailer of the Year as well as receiving the award for Best Online Shopping from the Company High Street Awards.
- 2007: Among awards received by the brand this year is the Retail Week Awards, Online Retailer of the Year Award and the Company of the Year Award at the Business XL Awards.
- 2008: A very successful year for ASOS sees the brand win Online Retailer of the Year Awards from the Cosmopolitan Online Fashion Awards, Retail Week Awards, In Style Shopping Awards and the Company High Street Awards.
- 2009: Another successful year for the ASOS brand receiving almost 20 Awards including Best Etailer of the Year from the Drapers Etail Awards, AIM Company of the Year Award from the Growth Company Awards and the Grant Thornton Mid-Cap Business of the Year Award at the National Business Awards.
- 2010: The brand receives (among others) the Fashion Retailer of the Year and Best Online Shopping Awards from the Company Magazine Awards, Best Use of Social Media and Best Direct Retailer from the E-commerce Awards and Best Etailer Blog from the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.
- 2011: ASOS receives the Best Pure Play Etailer Award from the Drapers Etailer of the Year Awards. Chief Executive and founder of ASOS, Nick Robertson receives and OBE for services to the fashion industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
ASOS’ Monthly Fashion and Lifestyle Magazine
ASOS Financial Information
ASOS posted its first profit in 2004 and since then, things have continued to go well for the brand. For the twelve months to 31 March 2011 (FY11) ASOS reported a 52% increase in total sales to £339.7 million with profits of £28.6 million, up 40% on the previous year. Sales in the UK market were up 25% on the previous year, while international sales were up a whopping 142% on the back of country-specific website launches in the US, Germany and France.
In the 3 months to the 31st of March 2011, international sales out shone UK sales for the first time in the brand’s history – international sales were up 161% to £48.4m on the previous year and UK sales were up 24% to £44.9m.
The brand is aiming to achieve sales of £1bn by 2015, which seems quite plausible when you consider the £20 million that has been invested into moving to larger premises that can accommodate an initial capacity of £600m in stock – nearly double the sales for 2011 of £324m.
Future of the ASOS Brand
ASOS is keen to reduce its reliance on the UK markets, which as of 2011, accounted for less than half of its total sales. Chief Executive, Nick Roberts announced in June 2011 that ASOS had plans for further international expansion for the following 12 months with the launch of three new country-specific websites in Spain, Italy and Australia. The Australian expansion has the extra benefit of being counter-season, meaning that stock moving out of season in the Northern Hemisphere will just be coming into season in Australia. The brand’s international expansion will rely heavily on the continued PR in key global fashion publications and by keeping up to date in the social media sector.
It is rumoured that the brand’s next immediate target is China, with Chief Executive, Nick Robertson reportedly telling the Guardian that opening up in China was “not a matter of if, but when”. However, the move into China could take a number of years as the brand would not be able to initiate the move independently. ASOS would need a partner to make such a move and stated that the partner would likely have to be Chinese. More details of an expansion into China are expected in the Autumn of 2011.
As well as further international expansion, ASOS also recognises the importance of the mobile market. The brand already has a Facebook store and Robertson has stated that 7% of all visitors to the ASOS site are using their mobile phones (2011). The brand sees mobile apps, internet via mobile phones and shops on social networking sites such as Facebook as the next ‘big thing’ in the online shopping experience. In the future expect to see a possible expansion in the social media sector and the lucrative applications market.
Visit the official ASOS website here.