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2016 Case Studies

top talent for our growing business

One thing’s for certain – we know how to attract talent. In June 2016, LinkedIn named ASOS the sixth most attractive employer in the UK, based on how we engage with people on our LinkedIn page, how we retain our talent and how audiences engage with our content on social career channels.

To give potential applicants a better idea of what it’s like to work for us, we release videos on social media for many of the key roles we recruit for. It’s making a real difference in helping us attract the right quality of people and giving them an authentic insight into our culture.

“We’re a destination employer,” says Peter Collyer, People Director at ASOS. “A lot of people are interested in working for us – partly because of our brand name, partly because we’re in fashion and partly because of our unique culture.”

Last year, we recruited more than 500 people into brand new roles, particularly in technology, which of course is a massive and growing part of our business. We’re particularly pleased that five of our Technology Team recruits came through the Prince’s Trust, the charity that helps young people get into jobs, education and training, following a series of workshops we ran with young people in London.“We were so impressed, we hired them practically on the spot!” he comments. We also look to the long term in our hiring, and this year continued to build strategic partnerships with key universities across the UK, attending career events and delivering workshops and masterclasses.

“We’ve worked hard to be in a privileged position where we can attract really talented, capable and fun-loving people who want to be part of something special,” says Peter. “Investing further in future talent in the UK and globally will continue to be a key focus for us over the next 12 to 18 months. Recruitment isn’t just about new people, though – internal development really matters to us, and we promoted more than 500 employees throughout 2016. We are really excited about the future, about how we are evolving, and about the opportunities we can create for great people.”

discovering what makes asos special

We’ve evolved enormously since we started in 2000 and, as we grow and move into new markets, it’s vital that we know what makes us different.

From August last year, we spent six months interviewing more than 1,000 staff about what we stand for and why ASOS is so special. We spoke to people in eight cities in three countries, ran 13 consumer focus groups, asked 25 consumers to fill in online diaries and interviewed 41 consumers face-to-face at home or in their favourite cafés. We also surveyed more than 3,000 20-somethings online from all over the world.

“A really clear brand purpose came out of it,” says Eve Williams, Brand Experience Director. “It’s to empower 20-somethings to look and feel their best so they can achieve amazing things.”

The resulting brand story now defines where we’re coming from, who we are, what we do and why we do it.

As for where we’re coming from, bravery has always been in our blood. We started to sell fashion online when most people said it couldn’t be done – and we proved that it could. And we’re still risk-takers – we back new trends, new brands and people we believe in.

So who are we? We’re creative and authentic to our core. We apply our creativity to everything we do, whether an embellishment on a dress or the way we develop new technology.

What we do is grow fresh talent and keep fashion moving forward. Nothing excites us more than spotting new trends or finding young talent.

And as for why we do it, it’s because we believe that fashion thrives on individuality and should be fun for everyone.

Knowing our brand story is vital to our business strategy. “Our brand story will help act as our filter for everything we do to help us stand out from the competition,” says Eve. “We’re an ecommerce platform that’s more than just a shop, so we need to stand out, especially in our international markets. We want to build a long-term sustainable brand that acquires customers and online advocates rather than just sales, so it’s important that we talk to our customers confidently about what we stand for and give them something to believe in.”

putting technology to work for our customers

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and technology is no exception. To make things even easier for them, we have built a new digital platform, underpinning all the technology that our customers see and touch when they browse and buy great products on our websites and our apps.

“This is our next-generation platform and it will support our global growth,” says Cliff Cohen, Chief Information Officer. “It will enable us to continue to grow at our current pace and will enable us to quickly change our digital experience, which allows us to keep innovating for our customers.”

We completed the development of our new digital platform last year, and launched the pilot in July 2016 through our Android app.

Our new platform has a number of really important design features:

  1. It is based on a micro-service architecture which ensures our future flexibility and agility as we are able to easily modify individual elements without major technical dependencies and plug in new solutions wherever required.
  2. We’ll be able to scale faster and further than before. For example, last Black Friday, our systems handled 28,000 orders an hour and at one point we were taking nine orders a second. We’re testing our new platform to operate at three times that volume.
  3. It is deployed in the Cloud which gives us even greater resilience and global reach. Our customers will find it easier to access our products anywhere in the world and they’ll have a globally consistent performance on our sites and apps.

“Our new platform is really special,” says Cliff, whose tech team expanded by c.45% last year. “It’s a huge, huge achievement and it will underpin our future technology innovation.”

thanking our customers and deepening our relationship with them

Everyone likes to be thanked, and in February 2016 we launched our first loyalty scheme – ASOS A-LIST – as a thank-you to our customers in the UK.

When customers shop they earn points that convert to vouchers. They also move up levels depending on how many points they have earned, and gain access to special benefits like exclusive points offers, birthday discounts, free next-day delivery codes and partner offers, like free access to Spotify. Our platform has an integrated dashboard that displays a customer’s points balance and shows how far away they are from the next tier.

“ASOS A-LIST gives customers a much richer experience of ASOS and allows us to thank them for their loyalty, deepening the relationship they have with us” says Andy Berks, Director of Performance Marketing. “We want every customer to be rewarded for their shopping and feel like they’re part of a community – as a result the way they engage with and relate to ASOS will change. While other businesses have loyalty schemes, it’s rare for a fashion company to have one that combines both points and tiers in this way.

“From a business perspective, we hope the programme will incentivise customers to shop more often and stay with us longer because they have more of a relationship with us than if they just shopped and didn’t get thanked in return.”

The scheme is a natural progression from a trial previously run in the UK for around 18 months, involving half a million customers. Now millions of UK customers are ASOS A-LISTers and more than half a million vouchers have already been issued. Customers in the UK are automatically enrolled into the programme and it’s hoped that international roll-out will follow in due course. People can opt out of the scheme, but very few have chosen to do so.

It’s already obvious that customers love the programme. One said on Twitter: “ASOS has launched a rewards scheme and it’s probably the best thing to ever happen to me.” Another said: “A-LIST IS AMAZING best idea ever! You have made my day.”

“We are confident that A-LIST will have a positive impact on sales and we already have in excess of 12 million active customers globally, with a significant proportion of these in the UK. Clearly any programme that incentivises those customers to spend more with us, or stay with us for longer, is good for our business.