ASOS, London-based online fashion retail performs well in all three, and particularly great on Facebook. ASOS' Facebook page are updated regularly with 2 posts per day on average. The contents are rich in format, collaborating video and static image. The content, instead of doing hard selling by posting discounts or promotion, are using a softer approach. ASOS posts articles that are indirectly related to its products, such as involving celebrities in their fashion articles, giving tips and trick on short video formats, and giving fashion guides. Compared to the other two, ASOS gave the most value for customers in their content marketing. Primark and Next has their part of content marketing, yet focused mostly on their own promotion and products. As for responsiveness, ASOS and Next are seen to reply the inquiries from the audience as far as giving the links to the products in question and responding to complaints. Primark with its low engagement rate shown no response to customers' comments and questions.
On Twitter, each brand performance doesn't show much difference except for ASOS lack of engagement despite of the 1 million followers count, far from the other two brands. Next leads the score with high interactivity and engagement from the followers, and tweets frequency. Primark performance is not on par with Next, yet the posts are likeable by its followers, showing the quality of the content.
On Instagram, Primark leads the audit score. The post frequency and quality are much different from Next and ASOS. Primark leads the mass market with its relatively cheap price, thus encourage more groups of audience to follow their social media. With fresh and bright Instagram feed and aesthetically pleasing arrangement, the contents are in accordance to the photo sharing apps' main function.
ASOS content marketing that involves celebrities and public figure also appeals to their target market of 20-something, fashion aware, and socially adept (ASOS PLC, 2017). On 2015, ASOS made use of Instagram's hashtag to create a user-generated content marketing with #AsSeenOnMe campaign, where their customers can upload their outfit of the day by ASOS in social media and showcase their style to inspire the others.
In conclusion for the social media and content audit, the strategy to be active in all three main platforms are fulfilling the strategy to engage with one of the main purpose of digital strategy. Each brand shows moderate engagement with their audience. The contents for all three are various in format and approach. The different point that are visible is the number of followers and responsiveness of the brands on social media. Next and ASOS, because they are providing e-commerce option, tends to be more responsive in answering inquiries as well as redirecting people to shop or visit their website through the answers.
Website and E-Commerce
All three brands own their website, yet with difference in function. ASOS and Next provide e-commerce service for their customers. Primark only offers catalogue in their website and style suggestion, yet not providing e-commerce service to their audience. The traffic for three websites are generated mostly from organic search with the brand name as search term, and direct visit (refer to figure 1 and 2). That means the website visitors meant to search for the website and brand, although the use of paid channel only shown from Next and ASOS efforts.
Figure 1. Website Traffic Source
Figure 2. Top Organic Search Term
ASOS are online based, thus the functions are more holistic than the other two. Aside from the catalogue features and categorically and thematically arranged list of products, ASOS incorporate content marketing on their website by giving similar tips and articles, similar to their social media content. ASOS is actively collaborating with other apps such as UNIDAYS, discount apps for students, taking students as their customer in common.
Another strategy they have for online transaction is by introducing Premier Delivery system (ASOS PLC, 2017), where customers subscribe the system for a small fee to guarantee next day delivery with no minimum purchase. ASOS also has different sub website for each country it operates in, to ensure their website is reachable and relatable to the country's trends (ASOS PLC, 2017). ASOS also has their A-List program, which is their loyalty program with points gathering system and rewards.
Next is catching up with ASOS on their online campaigns and sales strategy. Next has #sharewithnext campaign, which is a blog to share the customer's fashion of the day, similar to ASOS's #AsSeenOnMe. The uploaded pictures are visible in their website, and Next made a raffle to prize one of the picture winner with GBP100 worth Next voucher. Also Next Unlimited program, a similar one-day delivery subscription for a year with minimum purchase. Next also has NextPay, a unique credit account native of Next that allows its customers to pay in credit like scheme, to ease the shopper in purchasing their wide array of products offered.
Although the pressure to digitalize themselves are quite heavy for retail business (Bearne, 2016). Primark sticks to their plan on solely offering payments in their offline stores. The website is updated in timely manner with consistent content as their social media, which they are doing properly. Their lacking in e-commerce possibly derived from their value proposition. Unlike ASOS and Next that targets middle range market, Primark aims for the low price market. Shipping cost might be equal to the products' price itself and in some cases would discourage small purchases. At any other time, Primark might target large number of customers to their offline store and with their low price, encourage bulk shopping. With massive choices and low prices, Primark can attract impulsive buyer better at the store. The decision to not jump in the bandwagon of e-commerce might be a strategy on their own.
Smartphone traffic are overtaking desktop traffic (refer to figure 3), and mobile shopping is growing rapidly as internet changes the lifestyle of people. Being connected 24/7 strengthen mobile usage and development of technology. Growing familiarity with mobile purchase also accounts for the growth. From 2014 to 2015 alone, mobile shopping sales rose from GBP 14,6 billion to GBP 20,09 billion in UK (Ve Interactive, 2016). PayPal research indicates that m-Commerce growth globally will outpace e-Commerce growth by three to one (Orrigo, 2016). m-Commerce is predicted to rise by 2019 to GBP 38,4 billion, making up almost 50% of all e-Commerce sales, boasted by fashion sectors (Ve Interactive, 2016).
Figure 3. Traffic Share - Device
With e-Commerce, shopping become convenient for time-restrained and geographically-bond customers. They can choose and shop within minutes, then got the items by their hand on the upcoming days. In the recent years, e-Commerce doesn't even suffice anymore as people have a more convenient option of clicking away the shop website in their smartphone. Mobile apps and mobile optimised sites are launched by numerous retail brands to fulfil the needs after the digital eruption.
Fashion retailers should be aware that there are three different stages to mobile activity when it comes to finding items, which are browsing, researching, and purchasing (Hew, et al., 2016). With m-Commerce, the first two stages can be excelled (Wang, et al., 2016). Aside from the apps performance, features such as Push-notification, Geo-tagging, and personalisation should be considered as it gets vital with the increasing number of mobile phone user. ASOS and Next, with their e-Commerce feature, develop their mobile apps to reach out the mobile opportunity.
ASOS' mobile apps are neat and consistent with its desktop website display. It allows customers to create an account for personalization purpose, and data gathering. The apps have fast predictive search function, and multiple criteria for filtering the products. ASOS also used the perks of personalization in checkout page, which opt to remember the card details and only require the buyer to input 3-digit security number. The apps also allow the customer to capture the card to input the data, instead of typing the numbers and credentials on their own. The feature smoothens payment process, which is what the customers are fond of (Berthene, 2016)
ASOS effectively uses push notification, as less people open email for newsletter (Sahni, 2016). The notification and reminder for nearly ending promotion, newly uploaded products, and offering substitutes the impracticality of opening email and redirecting yourself to the website. As for convenience and personalization, the apps let customers save their shopping basket for future purchase to eliminate their effort in doing another search for the particular product.
Next, as progressive as they are on e-commerce, also provide m-commerce with their apps and mobile website. The features are not as holistic as ASOS' apps, yet it has competitive features. Easy navigation and filtering as well as easy payment methods. Next has Book feature, which substitute magazine-like catalogue that lets the user see the combination of Next's products in editorial fashion and clicks on what appeals to them to be directed into the product info page.
What sets Next apart from ASOS is its ability to seamlessly tailor online and offline experience. One of the features in Next's mobile apps is barcode scanning, where customers can scan the product on the store and find it on the web. The feature embodied its effort to be omni-channel, facilitating the customers to go back and forth with their shopping preferences while being within the fence.
On the other hand, possibly affected by its unavailability of e-commerce, Primark has not created any mobile apps, yet optimized their website for mobile use. The website showcases only limited number of their products, although rapidly changing stocks and styles might cause overwhelmed team on the backend. There is no customer service on the website, and lack of information on the products.
What Primark does with its website is making it the container for user generated content of Primania, a look book of Primark's customer style showcased similar to ASOS's #AsSeenOnMe. Primark also only accepts the purchase of gift card online. Primark is really lacking on the m-commerce and e-commerce. The absence of online presence might make the brand looks dull, and create less trust between customers and the brand.
UK faced Brexit, and it causes the fall of sterling which pressurized the margins on chain retailer like Primark and Next. ASOS, on the other hand might survive since the big chunk of its transaction comes from overseas (ref4). Next, shall it be consistent with e-commerce and m-commerce effort and expansion outside UK might follow suit. If Primark chose to rely on their brick and mortar format, in the future of millennials domination on the market, they should be prepared to see a harsher slouch on revenue.
ASOS are upfront with their digital strategy as they are native in online. Next can adapt more strategy following ASOS, and even explore more options of social media and its feature such as Facebook Live, or Snapchat to engage more with the market's ever changing trend in social media. Alternatively, Primark should explore options in e-commerce and m-commerce to adapt. Click and collect system for payment with no cost of shipping, provision of customer service, and elaborate information of products can be the feature of the website and possible mobile apps.
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