High street shops go online

The internet is a virtual high street – that’s why the big retailers already have online stores’, but are they any good? We talk to Nick Robertson is CEO of Asos.com, the online retail fashion store.

Nick Robertson is CEO of Asos.com, the online retail fashion store. Attracting more than one million visitors per week, the company has announced a 90 per cent increase on profits in the last year

Why do you think online shopping is booming?

It’s the beauty of the internet: convenience. If you are working all day in an office and you want to buy something, you can now go shopping from your desk. There is also broadband, which has escalated recently and made the experience of shopping online much better than even a year ago.

What is the ethos behind Asos.com?

Fashion is quite a disparate space and everybody’s doing their own thing. We are just putting it all under one roof. We believe internet shopping is a different experience from highstreet shopping and, unlike the high street, shoppers don’t want to go to lots of different places.

How has online retail affected the industry?

The internet is just a virtual high street to have a presence on; that’s why the majority of big retailers already have online stores and are trading successfully. They have discovered that their website is actually their biggest store in terms of customers, so the real issue is how big can internet retailing get? I think the reality is that it can become your biggest store, but you will always have the issue of offering the same across the formats. The likes of Asos.com, Play.com and Amazon are different because we don’t have bricks-and-mortar stores, so our inventories can be much bigger.

What sorts of job opportunities can we expect to see cropping up at internet only retailers?

There are new and unique skills needed in IT, such as web design. On the marketing side, you have specific skills unique to the internet, such as search engine optimisation, affiliates and pay-per-click. In addition, we still depend on our merchandisers, buyers and designers. In fact, our buying and merchandising teams are about 150-strong at the moment and we expect that to double again in the next 12 months. We also have a unique graphics and creative team, who spend a lot of time developing the look and feel of the website.

Why do you think retail makes a good choice of career?

Because it is so dynamic and cutting edge. It is right out there in the public eye, everyone has an opinion about it and it moves very quickly. You can multiply that by 10 when it comes to the internet: we are moving at a pace that has never been seen in traditional retailing.