U.K. fast-fashion retailer ASOS PLC yesterday rolled out a program that allows U.K. shoppers to try items on before they buy them.
Here’s how it works: U.K. shoppers with the ASOS app can order any of the 85,000 products for sale on ASOS. Shoppers have 30 days from the date the order is shipped to try on the products and return what they don’t want. Shoppers pay only for what they keep via payment service technology firm Klarna AB’s Klarna Pay Later service. To pay with Klarna Pay Later, shoppers must be 18 years old and have a mobile number, email and U.K. residential address. Once a shopper’s order is confirmed, she will receive an email from Klarna with payment instructions. She then has 30 days to pay online for what she chooses to keep. The service charges no additional fees or interest, ASOS says.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the ASOS experience for our 15.4 million customers around the world,” says Nicola Thompson, global trading director for ASOS. “We know people love the option of paying later only for the things they keep.”
As apparel sales shift online, a growing number of retailers are rolling out services like ASOS’s that let shoppers try before they buy. The theory is that letting shoppers touch, feel and try on clothes before they buy enables consumers to avoid worrying about the amount of time it will take to get a refund for that dress that is a little snug in the arms or that pair of running shoes that squeezes their toes.
We know people love the option of paying later only for the things they keepadvertisement
U.S. consumers return apparel more frequently than other items, with 75% of consumers saying they had done so in the past year, according to a survey of 1,005 shoppers conducted in October 2016 by reverse logistics provider Optoro Inc. Shoes ranked as the third-most commonly returned product, with 32% of consumers surveyed having returned them in the past year, just behind electronics at 33%. Meanwhile, 27% of consumers said it takes too long to receive credit or a refund for a return, according to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study released last June. The UPS study, conducted by comScore Inc. in January and February 2016, surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. online shoppers who had made at least two online purchases in a three-month period.
In the U.S., online apparel sales only account for about 27% of total apparel retail sales, according to Internet Retailer research, leaving plenty of room for growth. Statistics like this are leading even the largest online retailers to quell shoppers’ worries about paying for returns and waiting for their accounts to be refunded when buying online. Amazon.com Inc., for example, this summer launched Prime Wardrobe, a service that lets Prime members order fashion items online, try them on at home, then return anything they don’t like for free. If they select at least three items, Amazon will ship the items for free and consumers have seven days to send back anything they don’t like for free. Shoppers receive a 10% discount if they keep three or four items and a 20% discount if they keep five or more items. The service is currently in beta and available to consumers by invitation only.
The new service from ASOS is the latest in a recent string of convenience offerings by the retailer, No. 167 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000. In August ASOS launched Style Match, a visual search tool for is U.K. iOS app users. The tool is displayed as a camera icon that appears in the ASOS app search bar. Customers can tap the icon to snap a picture of an item of clothing, and the search tool will find similar products on ASOS. Users can also upload a photo from their camera roll—for example, a screenshot from social media—and use that image to search for similar products.
Nearly 80% of ASOS’s U.K. visitors come to ASOS via mobile devices and approximately 70% of U.K. sales are completed on mobile, ASOS says. U.K. shoppers with the ASOS app spend 80 minutes per month, on average, in it.
Last month the retailer launched ASOS Instant, which provides same-day deliveries for London shoppers. ASOS Instant is available to shoppers any of London’s 122 postcodes, on orders placed before 10 a.m., Sunday through Friday. It costs 12.95 pounds ($16.93) and packages are delivered between 6 and 10 p.m. on the same day. ASOS says it will roll out the program to other major cities around the U.K. in the coming months.
The retailer also offers a Premier Delivery subscription, similar to Amazon Prime, to U.S. and U.K. shoppers. The U.S. version charges a $19 annual fee for free 2-day delivery. The U.K. version costs 9.95 pounds ($13.01) a year for next day delivery. In the U.K. next day delivery cutoff times are what ASOS claims is one of the latest in the industry: midnight Monday – Friday, and 8 p.m. on the weekends. The merchant also operates more than 9,000 click and collect points around the U.K. where customers can retrieve their ASOS orders or drop off returns. Earlier this year ASOS also began offering what is calls Precise Delivery in the U.K, which allows shoppers to choose the time and day of delivery down to the hour.
ASOS’s global e-commerce sites attracted 146 million visits during June 2017 up 18.7% from 123 million a year earlier. The merchant has 15.0 million active customers as of June, an increase of 25% compared to 12.0 million a year earlier. 5.2 million ASOS customers are based in the U.K. and 9.8 million are international. That’s compared with 4.6 million U.K. and 7.4 million international shoppers a year earlier, ASOS says.Favorite