Online fashion still a bright spot


Despite the recession, online retail is still growing, and the
fashion sector seems to be doing especially well. Of the more
than 2,000 consumers surveyed for the latest e-Customer Service
Index by eDigitalResearch and IMRG, nearly half said they are
spending the same or more on fashion despite the recession.
What’s more, 76 percent intend to continue spending the same or
more online during the coming year.

As M and M Direct and Net-a-Porter.com show, success can be
achieved at both ends of the market. Discount fashion cataloguer
M and M posted a 29-percent jump in annual sales, to £95
million for the year to February. Profits rose by more than 20
percent, to £10 million. The company also said that the
current fiscal year started well with “double-digit”
growth in sales and profits on 2009, despite the economic
climate.
M and M has also expanded its reach by selling outside of the UK.
Although it hasn’t set up country-specific websites, the core M
and M site now offers pricing in euros as well as in pounds, and
it ships to Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg,
Monaco, and the Netherlands.

At Net-a-Porter, the luxury fashion etailer, profit rose 234
percent last year, to £10.1 million. Sales were up by 47.8
percent, to £81.5 million. The company attributed much of
its success to the redesign of its website, which included the
introduction of a “Boutiques” section that allows
customers to shop by designer or occasion, and improvements in
its back-office system, such as adding more payment options. It
also launched discount site TheOutnet.com and formed more brand
partnerships during the year. As with M and M, international is
proving a hit for Net-a-Porter.com, which ships to 170 countries
and has a growing international customer base, though it would
not disclose what percentage of revenue international sales
account for.

In related news, Tesco has decided to relaunch its fashion
website this autumn, working with Venda as its ecommerce partner.
Tesco had stopped selling apparel online in April 2008, with a
message to its customers that it would be back with an improved
offer based on customer feedback.

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