ASOS and logistics

Like many digitally native companies, ASOS knew they were destined for international stardom from the start. Established in 2000, when pundits said fast fashion could never work online, they built a global following by staying ahead of the trend, specialising in celebrity-linked clothing and apparel from the movies (you’ll be amazed how many people don’t know that ASOS stands for As Seen On Screen). However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, Kylie Minogue dresses and Tyler Durden jackets.  As the success of ASOS grew, logistics and delivery became an increasingly complex issue. So, in 2014 ASOS decided they needed to team with a logistics provider who could take them to the next level.

The challenge of Simple Systems Integration

When you have a webstore with over 85,000 rapidly changing SKUs, integrating IT systems with a logistics provider carries inherent risk. Rather than add complexity to the ASOS’ IT infrastructure, we saw that the solution lay in simplicity. Parcel Connect’s ‘Connector’ software could be integrated with their existing systems with minimal programming. Just one basic install enabled ASOS to ship internationally to 28 European countries with a single label - and offer their shoppers a greater choice of delivery services.

The challenge of Fluctuating Shipment Volumes

ASOS was developing new markets across 14 European countries. Some, with very high demand, needed a cost effect way to ship in volume. Others, where the brand was becoming established, needed a reliable way to ship smaller amounts.

The answer was to create a blended transport option. New markets utilise DHL eCommerce’s standard network option achieving transit times of around 3-5 days. Mature markets benefitted from Direct Injection with high volumes freighted straight to the destination country. Bypassing sort stages helped push costs down while still meeting industry-leading time slots.

The challenge of the Demanding Shopper

Twenty-something fashion-forward customers demand convenience. The typical ASOS customer is young, busy and impatient for their hot new look to keep up with the fast fashion industry. They expect certainty; goods delivered where they want them, when they want them. However, these expectations differ from country to country. In some, doorstep delivery is the norm. In others, shoppers prefer to collect from a service point or locker.

The key to meeting these expectations is in the unique way DHL eCommerce is structured. DHL’s world-class network is teamed with best-in-class domestic operators - under the management of DHL. This provides the flexibility (and quality control) to provide exactly the level of service each customer wants. Pre-notification, re-routing or delivery to an alternate address can all be part of our standard service.

The challenge of Data Transmission

You might think that providing this level of customer service across 14 European countries, via a mix of networked and direct logistics, with fulfilment from different warehouses and a number of last mile providers, could result in, ‘communication issues’.

But the beauty of DHL’s software is that it automatically transfers shipment data to all transport organizations - no ‘work arounds’, no extra IT integration. Better still, Track and Trace information is forwarded to the system from all the organizations to enable ASOS - and their customers - to monitor shipment progress in real time, providing a better user experience throughout the whole process. It also means that DHL can pro-actively monitor activity and address logistics issues before they arise.

The challenge of online returns

Typically, in the online fast-fashion industry, returns can run as high as 50%. With tight margins, ASOS needed a returns solution that was fast, convenient and customer-friendly. Having the largest network of service points in Europe certainly helped here. The ‘single label’ solution also works for returns. Dispatched orders can include a returns label that directs the shipment back to the returns center.

All the customer needs to do is take the unwanted goods back to a locker or DHL ServicePoint. Goods can then be routed back to where ASOS requires them for sorting and returning to stock. This keeps inventory moving and wastage costs lower. What’s more, returns are all part of the DHL eCommerce’s standard service, so ASOS weren’t suddenly hit with unexpected costs from goods coming back.

The challenge of Standards

To keep growing the business, ASOS needed predictability in their logistics costs. It’s hard to scale up when your logistics provider charges you based on individual parcel weight or dimensions. That’s why the DHL eCommerce’s standard service was right for them. They know they can ship any package up to 31.5 kg (and 120 cm) as part of the standard pricing structure.

The challenge of Reporting

Every successful business needs to keep a handle on the metrics. Performance reporting is built into the DHL eCommerce standard, with network delivery and returns performance included. But we also understand that large businesses require reporting at a KPI level, so we provide ASOS with flexible adaptations to specific reporting requirements.

The challenge of Partnership

So what makes the relationship between ASOS and DHL so fruitful? The simple answer is ‘Partnership’. From day 1, we have worked as trusted partners. That level of partnership can be seen in the Key Account Managers who are located close to ASOS’ Headquarters in the UK. Through the Account and Program Managers based in Germany who drive the design and implementation of new solutions across mainland Europe . It can be seen in the specialized Customer Service team that works directly with ASOS’ own customer care team to steer transports and monitor performance. And it can be seen in the central customer operations support that fix escalated problems with local teams and work side-by-side with the company’s own people.

Want to find out more?

From that first call back in 2014, DHL has tailored the Parcel Connect product around the needs and ambitions of ASOS. It is designed to be flexible, convenient and simple. But most of all, it is designed to be tailored, with an ethos of seamless customer service.

If you’d like to start a meaningful conversation on how DHL eCommerce could support your business ambitions, give one of our e-commerce specialists a call.