If we are bang on trend prediction here at FashionUnited then 2010 will be the official year when the webshop wins the battle against the high street store. More than half of the British population is shopping online a recent survey has found. The number first reached the 50% mark in February of this year but had increased to 51% by the end of the first quarter according to e-retail industry body, IMRG.
The webshop boom is endorsed by online loyalists such as Macy Sadler, Net-A-Porter and ASOS reporting healthy figures in sales. Net-A-Porter has an estimated turnover of around £120m and ASOS, who just announced plans today to launch an online marketplace, had sales surge 30% last December.
The online switchover is inevitable. House of Fraser, John Lewis, Tesco and New Look are few of the many faithfully converted while a resistant some still merely offer a store locator to help customers find their nearest branch.
Paul Armstrong, Managing Director of Vintage clothing business Devoted 2 Vintage has recently closed its doors to focus on its online business which accounts for nearly 80% of turnover. Paul Armstrong says: “We traded from the high street shop for a year before we decided to supplement this with an online presence. We employed a website designer to create a web page that would be easy to navigate and have the visual impact that we wanted.”
"Initially we drove traffic to the site using Google Adwords and in parallel worked really hard on online marketing and SEO to improve our SERPS rank in Google. The resulting increased traffic and turnover enabled us to grow our stock to the point now where we now have one of the largest online selections of vintage clothing in the UK. Over the three years our web page has grown over 10 times,” he adds.
Armstrong says: “Within 6-12 months the web page generated a higher turnover than the high street shop and within 2 years it accounted for nearly 80% of our overall turnover. Due to the increased level of stock we moved into a warehouse in late 2009 and with the continued expansion and success of the online business we closed the high street shop this year to concentrate 100% online. This is a much more profitable business model for us with higher turnover and lower running costs.”
Asked what the business does to keep ahead? Armstrong explains: “There are three key factors for us; the first is to ensure that there are always fabulous new vintage items for our customers to browse. The second is to ensure that the online shopping experience is as enjoyable and easy as possible and our web page is continually evolving, with visual improvements, adding new lines, new functionality and features and making it easier for the customers to complete orders by streamlining the checkout process. The third and possibly the most important factor for us is Customer Service. This is right at the very heart of everything we do.”
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