Asos is a perfect example of a successful modern brand. An online-only service, Asos founder Nick Robertson has ruled out opening a physical retail space anytime in the near future. Such a success story would have been unimaginable a couple of decades ago. But their impressive service actually follows a trend of new digital brands that have revolutionised their respective markets.
Put simply, the rise of the slick online-only service is a trend that extends beyond the retail industry. The taxi business was turned upside down by Uber’s emergence just over a decade ago. Almost overnight, the arguably archaic model of ordering a taxi was upgraded. Now, the industry has been permanently altered. Passengers were used to ringing a taxi and then being left with very little knowledge of the location of their driver. Uber allows them to see the location of their car in real-time and utilises cashless transactions.
Another example can be found in the housing market. The typical route to finding the best mortgage deal available would be to visit a mortgage broker to discuss options. Now, now challenger brands are shaking up the market. Digital brands like Trussle act as an online mortgage adviser, instantly assessing the market to find the best possible deal for the customer. Whether it be an offer from a bank, building society, or a dedicated mortgage lender, the online service uses technology to determine the best offer for the consumer. Significantly, there is no face-to-face contact needed, and no wait time needed to book an appointment.
In retail, ASOS is perhaps the most obvious example of a challenger brand finding success in the British retail market. Young people are using ASOS in their droves to buy their clothes, often as an alternative to visiting establishments in person. With a streamlined, sleek website and a well-designed mobile phone app, it is easy to see the appeal. From the comfort of their home, or whilst out and about on a bus or a train, customers can shop across hundreds of styles.
How it started vs how it’s going pic.twitter.com/gz8jQx1JCt
— ASOS (@ASOS) October 12, 2020
The rise of the well-designed online-only brand extends beyond Asos, of course. Some brands like the fast-fashion brand Missguided also started as a successful digital service. It eventually expanded to open a limited number of stores, and recently starred in a glossy Channel 4 documentary series. Missguided and Asos are just two of a number of brands to have grown in a previously unconventional way.
While the internet was still growing, the idea of opening an online-only service would have seemed extremely risky. The fact that Asos posted a sales record of £1bn in the final four months of the 2010s is a sign that their timing in launching a stylish digital service was impeccable. This has allowed them to grow their revenue to an astonishing level.
Overall, online services like Uber, Trussle, and Asos have all exposed a glaring gap in the market. As a result, they have managed to forge a successful existence, both in terms of their profit and in terms of convenience for the average consumer.