As the luxury discount market continues to grow, The Outnet and its parent company, the Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, are evolving to keep up.
The Outnet, an off-season luxury fashion site that features more than 350 brands, is one of four companies that have operated within the YNAP umbrella since Yoox and Net-A-Porter merged in 2015. It has continued to experience success amid the rise of similar e-commerce platforms like Farfetch, Lyst, and Orchard Mile. What’s more, it comprises 37.1 percent of YNAP’s total revenue, a rise of 17 percent from 2015 to 2016. Part of this growth can be attributed to targeted data strategies that help the company better understand its shoppers, led by The Outnet’s eight-person data team and third-party organizations that help track consumer preferences.
The Outnet, in tandem with YNAP, is using this data to launch a new website platform at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 in partnership with IBM Watson, according to Andres Sosa, evp of sales, marketing and creative at The Outnet. The refresh will be focused on increasing the level of personalization for shoppers (across the 170 markets where The Outnet sells) by tracking their go-to sizes and brands to best curate options and offer up fitting recommendations. Though the new platform is in the development stage, IBM Watson will essentially redesign the site from the ground up and simplify the user experience, as well as that of its sister YNAP sites, as part of a streamlining effort that has been needed since the merger, Sosa said.
Sosa’s team is particularly interested in tracking patterns per market, and determining which brands sell best per country and region — while working closely with Shira Suveyke, co-president and chief merchant at The Outnet, who works with brands to select and stock product. Major emphases for Sosa are surveys and focus groups, designed to get a better understanding of preferences — for example, Australian customers in Sydney may like layering, while a shopper in Melbourne is partial to monochromatic looks.
“You could go into data paralysis, because there are so many touch points,” Sosa said. “We focus on our top 10-12 markets, and that’s where we really go down into the detail of brands that are shopping and brands that are not shopping.”
Currently, 50 percent of sales are derived from The Outnet’s mobile site, which is available on iOS and recently launched for Android last fall. Sosa said the high percentage can be attributed to an optimized user experience that focuses primarily on the product and nixes everything else, including editorial content and videos, which is a focus of the desktop site.
“We conducted a poll of 10,000 women and used them as a point of reference when launching new campaigns when it came to mobile,” Sosa said. “We found she wanted to come, shop and leave. She didn’t want any of the content. When you get onto the app and you wonder why there isn’t video, it’s because she didn’t want it. It wasn’t that we forgot to add it.”
However, this doesn’t mean The Outnet is avoiding video altogether. Last week, the site launched a tongue-in-cheek video series featuring Sara and Erin Foster of “Barely Famous,” a parody show on VH1, to bring levity to the occasional haughtiness of fashion week. The video series is part of a larger content strategy for the company, which is launching a revamped editorial calendar in March. It will be centered around monthly themes to better guide development of everything, from social media content to sponsored podcasts.
As part of the transition, The Outnet plans to be smarter about influencer partnerships and also sponsored content that features women, which resonates most with consumers, based on survey data. According to Sosa, these women will be more than just fashion figures — they’ll also be women with a lifestyle, travel and health focuses. “She doesn’t want people she can’t look up to and be inspired by. She wants someone that she can learn from and really look up to. They have to be able to bring something to the party,” he said.