Today we’ll review the ASOS shopping experience. ASOS is one of the biggest and best in fashion e-Commerce. When I say “biggest”, how big do I mean? In 2016 the UK-based retailer had over 12.4M active customers and £1.4B in sales. That’s £1,400,000,000. With nine zeros. Big numbers.
Today I’d like to explore exactly how they built this retail powerhouse. Why are ASOS customers so loyal to this brand and what part of their digital user experience is so compelling? Reading annual reports is helpful, but no better way to learn than to analyze the actual shopping experience first-hand. Let’s do some shopping!
I set out with a budget of $100-$200 to find some clothes for myself, a 27-year-old guy. I like simple and classic looking clothes. Nothing too flashy. No new weird trends. Just casual day-to-day and officewear.
1) How to find products: navigation, catalogs, and edits
The main navigation bar is pretty clear. It opens as a mega box giving me all the options of shopping in one place.
You can see the pages are split into several sections: Shop by Product, Popular Brands, and Shop by Edit. Similar to most online shoppers, I’m not looking for anything specific to buy. I want to browse around. Once I see something I like, I’ll buy it.
ASOS has a section called #AsSeenOnMe. It allows users to upload their user-generated images to a hashtag on Instagram. From there, it seems their editorial team reviews the submissions and selects the top ones to appear on the main page.
You can browse the different images and even filter by certain styles shown above the images (night out, smart, jackets…etc). The filters aren’t too helpful here. It seems that regardless of the filter I selected, the same images are shown.
Shoppable – If you click an image, it shows similar products you can buy directly from ASOS. Each user photo usually has 4-8 products connected to it you can buy. Most of the products are similar to the original appearing in the photo, but some are off (see the jacket below).
Overall, a very cool feature. I spent around fifteen minutes browsing the different outfits. I added all the products I liked to my wishlist (“Saved Items”). I’ll review it at the end and choose my final purchase.
Daily Style Feed
The next section I tried out is their Daily Style Feed. It’s basically a page of fashion articles, new trends, how-to tips and some celebrity sightings.
Each article focuses on a different aspect. I didn’t really find a common theme. The simple articles were the ones that got me to click. As a hardcore T-shirt man, this was a topic I can relate to:
At the end of each article, you can shop products featured in the article. Or similar ones at least.
Overall, while I like the direction of fashion blogs, I didn’t connect with all the articles. There were too many of celebrity sightings, many of which I didn’t understand or know who the celeb is (example: what does this title mean? #1,175 A$AP ROCKY NAILS SMART/CASJ). These were some good ones I liked: How to Tie a Bow-Tie and Top 10: Bestsellers. These were simple articles that give me instant value.
2) Time to checkout
Ultimately, I used the sections above to find general directions of products I like. White sneakers were first on the list as my current pair were worn out. I quickly reduced my options to a shortlist of 4-5 similar sneakers and then chose the final according to brand and price.
One somehow confusing aspect was the shopping cart / saved products lists. Many products for which I clicked the “Save” button were never saved, probably some glitch. In other cases, I added something to the cart, only to find out that it’s only saved for 60 minutes. After that, the product “vanishes”, instead of returning to “Saved Products” list.
I ended up going with this pair of K-Swiss Classic Trainers. Checkout was a breeze, quickly going through the form and paying with PayPal.
After purchasing, I started getting notification emails every few hours from ASOS (shipment processed, shipment ready, etc…). At first, I enjoyed seeing updates as my sneakers made their way from the UK. A few days later, after I got 6-7 emails with pointless updates as “shipment released from container”, I unsubscribed. Too much information. Give me the highlights ASOS, no need to get an email for every left turn the driver makes.
3) Shipping and the “Last Mile”
It was very refreshing to see the way ASOS handled shipping for their products. The package was quickly transferred overseas and reached the country.
In retail, the “last mile” issue is a tough one. How do companies deliver the product from the local shipping branch to the end consumer’s home/office? Instead of working with the local post office company, which would force me to pick it up from one branch, they work directly with a local shipper in the area. I received an automated SMS after a few days asking where I wanted to pick up my package from. I was offered to select from a list of convenience stores in my neighborhood who work with the shipping company. For me painless shipping is by far the biggest factor in when shopping online.
The shipment arrived safely in a branded ASOS wrapped bag.
What I liked:
- Ease of use – Simple navigation bars, all the sections in one place, great text search.
- Many discovery options – In addition to the standard catalog, we have the “edits” which helped a lot.
- Clean design – Clean and uncluttered. No distracting banner or “noise”.
- Selection – Has almost anything you can think of – ASOS-branded items and also other brand names.
What needs to improve:
- No customer reviews – It’s almost a standard today to read comments from users who bought the product.
- Saved items/cart – Saved only for 60 minutes in the cart? Some items weren’t added to the list. A bit glitchy.
- Zero personalization – C’mon ASOS. I’ve been browsing the website for two hours. Some product recommendations could really help.
Overall the process was very painless and fun. In the overall experience, something just felt right about the process. ASOS definitely has the X-factor.
Final note: As CEO of Bllush, it was important for me to learn first-hand what makes a shopping experience truly amazing. These usability tests are a critical way for me to direct our company to build products that have true impact. If you’re interested in offering a great user experience for your store, feel free to check out our products or reach out directly to me at [email protected]
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