According to conventional wisdom – if there actually is such a thing when it comes to that fast-growing infant known as the Internet – companies that enjoy the highest degree of retail success online are those that are first and foremost brick-and-mortar stores who just happen to have an online presence.
However, British fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter.com, is proving that the tried-and-true apparently isn’t.
Started six years ago by Natalie Massenet, the website’s 2004 profits were 227,041 GBP ($431,400), while 2005 sales jumped to 21.3 million pounds ($40.5 million) with profits of 1.8 million GBP ($3.42 million); revenues are predicted to double this year – yet again! – in keeping with the company’s amazing growth since its inception. What is the secret’s to Net-a-Porter’s success? "We're about fashion, products and service," Massenet recently explained to WWD. "We always saw Net-a-porter as fashion opportunity more than anything else, a chance to provide women with the most extraordinary fashion service."
Cleverly, the company’s strategy has combined two important factors: stocking hard-to-get "it" brands like Roland Mouret, Corto Moltedo, Vera Wang, Issa, Jovovich Hawk, and Burberry Prorsum - "Overnight, we became the global stockist for Burberry Prorsum in Australia, the Far East and parts of Europe," notes Massenet – and serving them up in an editorial (rather than traditional retail) atmosphere reminiscent of a glossy high-fashion magazine. Rather than simply presenting the fashions as disparate units of clothing, Net-a-Porter presents them as looks, on figure and fully styled with accessories, providing shoppers with a context and a clue how to wear everything. For red carpet attendees, they offer advice on how to get dolled up for London’s Serpentine summer party, what to wear to the Met’s Costume Institute gala in May, and even how Californians should dress during winter. The site also includes fashion layouts, tips from editors, interviews with designers, and trend reports. Their Net-a-Porter Notes is published twice a year in diary form to coincide with fashionweek, and incorporates a catalogue, magazine, and the best looks of the season.
Massenet has correctly noted that a large part of her site’s success is based on the fact that they view themselves not as a dot-com but as a fashion business. Their strength is providing an editorial context for the pricey designer fashions they sell. In fact, it’s similar to the reason shoppers seek out blogs: now that they’ve seen the goods, they want someone with taste they trust to curate and edit down the choices for them, and then explain what to do with them. (via WWD)
To listen to the Fashiontribes 5 Min. Podcast about this, visit PodcasterNews.com.
- Lesley Scott