“We had to tear up the entire business plan and leave”

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Opening of the Drapers Digital Festival, the market leading event for online fashion retail and e-commerce, taking place today and tomorrow (Join Now be there live free) described Beighton how Covid-19 forced Asos to abandon its existing business plan and rethink the future.

“We had to rethink where the organization should go. We realized we needed to get more digital – which may sound strange from a Pureplay retailer, but we needed to get more digital in all of our processes. We have already worked on digitizing our customization process and speeding it up so that fewer physical samples move around in different locations.

“We had to be more connected to our customers and become more agile. We have canceled or relocated nightlife equipment worth around half a billion pounds and introduced significantly more casual wear – we “We had to completely switch from one category to the other.”

Beighton predicted that the coronavirus crisis will increase consumer interest in sustainability: “Sustainability is a big thing and it is only getting bigger. In the near future, there will be a tipping point where customers will organize their spending according to sustainability principles. This will be a pivotal year on this journey: 2020 will bring back thoughts on ethics, values, what customers really need, who made their garments, and whether those people were treated right. “

Asos unveiled a 29-piece circular fashion collection earlier this week that follows eight sustainability principles and has held conferences with suppliers to help them improve sourcing and sustainability standards.

“I’ve told our partners that transparency is key,” said Beighton. “Transparency is inconvenient, but it enables control and change. Sustainability doesn’t shape most of our customers’ shopping habits right now, but we focus on this topic because we see it right and because we make predictions.There will be a tipping point, and when that tipping point comes our customers will no longer have to choose what Buy them sustainably from Asos because we did this hard work for them. “

Strong product

Casual wear, activewear and beauty products were the key categories that performed strongly for Asos in the lockdown – a trend Beighton expects to evolve over the long term as consumers face a holiday season with no parties and events under coronavirus restrictions.

“If we look at the next six months, which are among the most important times of the year for retail, consumer behavior is usually determined by parties and events. Asos is known for going out – we’re famous for that – but evening wear or tailoring sales haven’t increased since the restrictions were lifted. Lockdown categories are still developing very strongly. It’s going to be a very restless three months for online and offline retail. “

The Asos boss also expects the pandemic to disrupt Black Friday and Christmas for the main street.

“Boxing Day and Black Friday will be very difficult to manage for brick and mortar stores, as social distance and queues will have to be avoided. There could also be a problem with product supply as many factories were closed at one time and the products weren’t made for Black Friday. I think we will see the Christmas sales season brought forward. “

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