ASOS puts hope in technology to boost international sales

Online fashion retailer ASOS is hoping that investment in its IT platform will help to reverse a decline in international retail sales.

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Online fashion retailer ASOS is hoping that investment in its IT platform will help to reverse a decline in international retail sales.

In its latest trading statement for the three months ended 30 November 2014, the company revealed that its strong UK performance (24 percent growth) had been offset by a two percent decrease in international retail sales.

“International trading conditions remain challenging,” said ASOS CEO Nick Robertson.

“We have commenced investment into our international pricing and have started to roll out our zonal pricing capability, which combined will help us to address our international performance. We continue to focus on our major investment programmes, upgrading our IT platform and investing in our logistics capability."

During the quarter, Robertson said that ASOS had completed the automation programme at its Barnsley warehouse in time for the Christmas trading period peak. The business was set back by a fire at the warehouse in June, but sales have “gathered momentum” since the automation work was finished, he said.

“We had our biggest ever trading week over cyber weekend in November,” he added.

Robertson said that ASOS plans to use the £6.3 million insurance payout following the Barnsley warehouse fire to accelerate its investment in its international pricing systems.

Globalisation strategy

In its full-year results in October, ASOS said that it aims to invest £75 million across technology over the next two years to help the business expand globally. This includes launching its zonal pricing solution and carrying out a “major replatforming” project.

“Our technology investment continues to focus both on ensuring we offer a best-in-class customer experience in all our strategic markets and on developing our underlying platforms to provide the capacity, capability and resilience to deliver our global growth targets,” the company said at the time.

It admitted that the launch of its zonal pricing functionality - which it said allows it to offer locally competitive pricing, promotional activity and to sell certain brands which are otherwise restricted in some international markets - was running late. However, it said that it would be live in a number of “key territories” before the peak Christmas trading season.

In addition, ASOS said in October that replatforming its websites would allow it to share all of its content and product category pages globally across a wider range of languages and devices, and significantly improve the response times of its international website.

During the last financial year, ASOS launch localised Australian and US versions of its Android and Apple iOS apps. It plans to launch localised apps in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia by the end of February 2015.

Role changes

IT at ASOS has been the responsibility of Nick Beighton, the company’s chief operating officer (COO) since October. Beighton, who had been chief financial officer (CFO) at the firm, is in charge of retail, international, finance, IT, supply chain and logistics as COO.  CIO Pete Marsden resigned from ASOS in September.

Image credit: ASOS

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