Asos is investing in new technologies, such as visual search and the ability to refund its customers as soon as returns leaves their hands.
Boss Nick Beighton told Retail Week: “Product and technology put Asos on the map 17 years ago, they’ve always been inseparable. Asos is as much a technology business as it is a fashion business [and] content business.
“If something needs returning, the returns journey needs to be as fast as the outbound journey. Why? Because our customers want their money back”
Asos chief executive Nick Beighton
“But several years ago we realised we would need to start taking a completely different approach to our tech. There are a ton of things we’re working on that might never come out of the door, but that’s fine. It is part of linking to something else, part of the discovery.”
He added that Asos was trying to revolutionise its return process to make it as fast as its delivery proposition.
“If something needs returning, the returns journey needs to be as fast as the outbound journey,” he said. “Why? Because our customers want their money back.
“The 20-somethings are planning their debit and credit card flow as they always have done, but that is becoming more and more important.
“We realised that we haven’t put the same amount of innovation into returns as we have deliveries.”
Beighton said that Asos was now working on how to refund its customers as soon as they dropped a package off at a Post Office or other returns outlet.
He admitted that that was “fraught with issues”, but added that if Asos was able to refund customers “right there and then” they would be “free to go again, not just at Asos, but anywhere”.
“Asos is also exploring visual search technologies based on screenshots and social media pictures, as well as photographs”
He added: “And if your experience has been so great, if we have refunded you so quickly, I might just get you to come back to us.”
Asos is also exploring visual search technologies based on screenshots and social media pictures, as well as photographs.
The etailer will begin testing using visual search for its ‘out of stock’ pages within a few weeks.
“Doing that opens up the journey again,” Beighton said, explaining that an ‘out of stock’ message would be replaced by product options to keep customers browsing.
Asos will launch a direct visual image search within its main search function in a few months.
Both the direct search and the ‘out of stock’ search will be tested with small groups of customers to give the etailer the opportunity to test and learn before rolling out the technology.