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Online Retailer Day 2: Future in focus

On day two of Online Retailer, major players in the industry shared how they are evolving their businesses for the future of e-commerce.

The Iconic COO Anna Lee said the online fashion company is about to expand its 20,000sqm warehouse by another 40 per cent to accommodate the 50 per cent year-on-year growth rate it has seen over the past few years, since Patrick Schmidt became CEO in 2013.

“I think that [appointment] has really been critical and fundamental to the success of The Iconic [which has evolved] from a startup online retailer to a really amazing organisation that is focused on technology, fashion, innovation,” she said.

According to Lee, the company’s strong focus on its customers has provided the foundation for its current success.

“Our purpose is to liberate customers. That sounds a little bit ‘marketing fancy’, which it probably is, but it’s about understanding the customer’s emotional journey when they buy apparel,” she said.

“What you decide to wear every day is actually an expression of your individualism. So when a customer buys something, there’s an emotional attachment to what they purchase…so that type of thinking is embodied in the whole entire business.”

A mindset shift is also occurring within the Cotton On Group, according to the group’s general manager of e-commerce, Brendan Sweeney.

He said the group’s recent launch of a loyalty scheme, Cotton On Perks, is part of a broader effort to unify data from every part of the business, which is driving better customer insights.

Cotton On Group kept the loyalty program deliberately simple and easy to join. More than 3.3 million customers have signed up for Perks so far, and around 100,000 are being added every week.

And because the company is using one loyalty system across all seven brands, it has found that 70 to 90 per cent of any given brand’s customers shop across other brands too.

According to Sweeney, this was not previously thought to be the case, and customers weren’t being marketed to across brands, which was a missed opportunity.

Catch Group is also growing its loyalty program, Club Catch, which launched two years ago as a way to offer customers free shipping without eating into already tight margins.

“We started Club Catch, and that gives you free shipping. And now we’ve launched some additional services that give you discounts on movie tickets and petrol and other stuff,” Catch Group CEO Nati Harpaz said.

The program now has 85,000 members and soon the company will introduce a dual-pricing system, so Club Catch members can get access to exclusive discounts.

Harpaz said the company plans double its marketplace revenue in Australia in the next year and expand its in-stock offering to new markets, including potentially South East Asia.

Catch Group is also planning to open its first bricks-and-mortar store in the form of a popup at Chadstone Shopping Centre within the next six to eight weeks.

“We’re taking a massive store in Chadstone,” he said. “It’s quite an exciting digital store.”

While Harpaz was scant on the details, he said that bricks-and-mortar stores need to be experience centres, which he admitted is easier said than done.

“You see retailers investing in it, but it’s capital-heavy and you have to spend a lot of money to make your shop so exciting that people want to come in.”


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