Fashion e-tailer Asos is to invite a selection of customers to test its online community site Asos Life in the next two weeks as it gears up for the full launch later this month.

The e-tailer, which this week gave Retail Week a sneak preview of the site, will add a community link for access to Asos Life to the navigation bar of its main e-commerce site.

Asos marketplace and community director James Hart said that unlike other social networking sites launched by retailers, there will be tight integration with its main site.

Existing customers will have the same log-in for the e-commerce and community sites, and simply have to choose a username to gain access to Asos Life.

The site will feature blogs from members of employees, and Hart is keen that staff should be accessible to customers if they have particular questions or problems. A help forum will also allow customers to answer each other’s questions.

Another innovative element of the site will be an ideas section. Customers will be able to submit ideas that they would like to see Asos implement – for example, to use more black models – and other users of the site will be able to vote on whether they think the idea
has legs.

Users of Asos Life will be able to set up a profile and link with friends and groups. Hart intends to get Asos’s product teams to set up groups for more niche products – such as the new childrenswear range – to help generate discussion.

Initially, Asos wants the website to stimulate conversation between the company and its customers, but eventually it will introduce rich media elements such as photos and videos.

Hart said that the e-tailer’s social networking and community development sets it apart from its competition.

The Asos Life site has been built with the help of US firm Awareness, which describes itself as a social media marketing firm.