ASOS has once again popped up in my life, this time in an article in the Daily Telegraph, with the header 'Why no one can compete with ASOS'. ASOS certainly are one of the top online retailers for fashion, but why are they so great and what should other online retailers do to give them a run for their money?
1. Easy to use Web site wins
The top online retailers start from fast growing niche web sites like ThePrintedBagShop.co.uk and go up to ones like ASOS. When using these online retail sites, I can easily find the what I am looking for, I do not get lost and they give me the key information I need in quick navigation menus. This is the first step after the site has been found and often where I drop out. We have looked at 35 UK web site creation companies who serve some of the top online retailers and will post our candid findings of which ones do what for e-commerce in the near future.
2. Global shipping, preferably free of charge
Last week during a dinner with an ex-colleague from Denmark, he was wearing a Superdry shirt. I asked him where he buys that in Denmark. "I get it online from the UK as I do not know where to get it at home".
Two clicks later and I have found the shirt online. FREE DELIVERY, and it says ADD TO BAG; perfect as I rarely use a basket when shopping in top retailers. As with all top online retailers, the shipping is free to UK and Europe. Worldwide shipping, charged, but at least it is stated very clearly.
3. In stock, telling customer exactly how many as well
The story goes like this. I am in New York; insomnia hits in. I am returning to London the next day and decide to order a book from one of the unquestionably top online retailers, Amazon, for delivery to my London home. For sure, the book is in stock, ready for despatch. I arrive in London, my book sits snug in my mailbox. Wonderful.
Compare that with this. I go into Waterstone's or Barnes & Noble. Shoe leather costs set in for getting there. I want a specific book. 'Not in stock' comes the reply. They can order it in. Not ideal. I look for alternatives. Limited.
Stock figures are shown on the web by top online retailers. Average e-commerce companies say 'In Stock' or 'Out of stock'. These companies are not really sure what stock they have as it is not live, whereas top online retailers know exact quantities to the second. Most of them use a barcode system as part of their warehouse management system to achieve this. Impressive.
4. Easy to return, no questions asked
The easier it is to return items, the more sales you make. Fact. This is why the top online retailers are becoming more powerful as their have the systems to automate this, plus the agreements with the couriers for collections. We have all received items that looked great on the supermodel online, but was not as flattering on our curves. Back they go.
The top online retailers provide a returns label when the order is initially delivered, with postage prepaid. Simple stuff for us customers. Simple for the online retailer to scan the barcode on the returns label when it arrives back into the warehouse. They can check it and then scan it into stock ready for resale if all is ok, or quarantine it with fault code if there is an issue.
5. Not speaking to customer service is best?
I believe that the smaller online retailers need this as a competitive tool. But for the top online retailers, let's take Amazon again, I have never spoken to anybody there and do not want to. I have no reason to if they deliver on time the correct items without damage. And if I need to return, sticky label on box, back it goes. No discussion, no discussions. My ideal experience of a top online retailer. This is rare and requires investment in systems, but pays back in customer loyalty and less human operating expense.
That's my simple view of what I see with top online retailers, where choice, availability, slick systems making it easy to buy, receive and return are the ultimate destination.
Author: Jonathan Bellwood