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The Outnet sees untapped potential in APAC

UK-based e-commerce site The Outnet sells luxury fashion at discount prices to customers in 170 countries around the world. The brand, which is part of the YOOX Net-A-Porter Group, recently added a native Android app to its mobile strategy, a crucial move as over 50 per cent of customers now shop The Outnet on their mobile devices.  

Internet Retailing spoke with Andres Sosa, executive vice president of sales, marketing and creative at The Outnet, about developing a successful mobile strategy, localising its offering to different regions and the potential of the discount market.

Heather McIlvaine: Can you describe your mobile strategy and the role mobile plays in your overall business?

Andres Sosa: As a pure play digital e-tailer, we are always looking to grow THE OUTNET.COM’s digital strategy. Over the past few years we have seen a growing increase in traffic coming from mobile, with over 50 per cent of our customers now shopping from mobile devices, so creating a mobile-first strategy to drive the company forward is a key growth area for us as a business. We also see a significant amount of mobile traffic coming from Android devices, notably from markets in the APAC region, and we want our customer to have best journey possible regardless of her chosen device when she is browsing and shopping on THE OUTNET. Adding Android into our strategy sees us cement a 360 cross platform approach allowing us to speak to a worldwide audience and continue our steady global growth.

HM: How do you develop a customer-centric digital strategy? 

AS: When THE OUTNET launched, one of the key aims was to create a business that directly spoke to digital and global needs in the e-tail landscape, and we apply this premise across every aspect of THE OUTNET business. Our customer is at the heart of what we do and we are constantly monitoring her shopping patterns, when and how she shops and her favourite brands. We also have an incredible dedicated customer insights team who reach out to over 10,000 customers globally. They commission research pieces directly in market and really get to dive deep and spend time with our local customers. Having these key customer insights means we are able to offer a personalised approach to the shopping experience on THE OUTNET. It’s crucial to understand the customer and to be able to offer them a unique tailored experience.

HM: The Outnet is based in the UK but it ships to 170 countries and offers customer support in 16 languages. You clearly are a global brand. Do you tailor your approach to audiences in different regions?

AS: We have a head office in London and also a team in New York and we really do consider ourselves as a truly global brand. Geo-targeting and localization play a very important role in our customer communication strategy – we need to be relevant and talk directly to our customer, wherever she is based. In early 2014, we started testing geo-targeted activities for all territories, ensuring there was a strong curated edit for each of the markets that sat within our global customer communication strategy. The results led to strong engagement and conversion, so we increased our dedicated targeting activity during 2015 and are continually doing so, offering geo-targeted edits for different territories every two weeks. Our original geo-targeting strategy was created to react to varying climates but now we also produce geo-targeted activity for key moments and events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year. Adding these to our strategy helps us meet our customers’ needs wherever they are based around the world. For example, we have recently re-launched our ‘Just In’ section for Australia with a targeted visual merchandising approach. The page now contains more seasonally appropriate products, colors and brands dedicated to the market, reacting to events such as Spring Racing which is especially relevant for Melbourne and Sydney.

HM: What are some of the interesting e-commerce trends and customer behaviours you see developing in the APAC region?

AS: We have a strong customer base in the APAC region, however there is further potential for us as e-tailer within this market. We know that users of Android over-index in the APAC market and we look forward to being able to analyse key customer behaviours across Android in comparison to our desktop and iOS platforms. We also know that behaviours tend to vary across markets. For example, our bestselling category globally is dresses, but when we drill deeper, we see that dresses, jackets and skirts are the top three categories in Hong Kong, while in Australia the top categories are dresses, followed by tops and jackets. Having our dedicated customer insights team means that we monitor what our customer likes to buy, what time of day she likes to shop, what platform she shops from and, of course, what her favorite brands are. We also recently commissioned a unique social media study where we analysed 33 million social media posts globally and noted that we are living in state of what we like to call ‘harmonious contradiction’. The study found that while we celebrate our uniqueness as people and consumers, we also seek to be part of a tribe and use different tools to create this feeling, such as clothing trends or locations. We’re less concerned about material wealth in general, but what we wear and how we display it is more important than ever before. We’re seeking to disconnect, yet looking to capture these moments of freedom ‘digitally’. Studies such as these really help us to understand the modern consumer and their behaviour. As a business, tools such as these can only help us to develop and expand our digital strategy.

HM: Statistics show that discount or value players are performing particularly well in the retail market right now, with cost-conscious consumers driving this trend. How are you tapping into this trend? And how do you see it playing out in the e-commerce market more broadly?

AS: Yes, we are mindful that value players are performing well in the retail market. However, what we offer at THE OUTNET as a brand and a platform stands us apart from the rest. We offer a unique approach, with our business and buying strategy, implementing the same mindset as a full-price retailer. We have a unique value proposition with a high quality product offering, a full-price site experience and an editorial approach, all combined with discounted prices. We know that the industry recognises that we have redefined the online discount business model. We focus on offering the best content, editorial and brands without compromising on experience.

HM: What’s next for The Outnet?

AS: The sky is always the limit at THE OUTNET – it has been amazing to a see what we have achieved since we launched 7 years ago. We pride ourselves on our designer relationships and have had some really great partnerships over the summer including exclusives with Matthew Williamson, Melissa Odabash, Adam Lippes and Saloni to name but a few. For the rest of the year, we will be focusing on our Christmas campaign. We have a dedicated Christmas Shop, providing customers with a festive shopping experience centred around innovative content and curated gifting selections. We entitled the campaign ‘Christmas, Your Way’ and captured the best moments of the holiday season using an amazing illustrator called Kuan Jia, who creates stunning vibrant watercolour drawings.

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