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Asos tech capability goes from “strength to strength”

Asos reported a strong set of figures for its full-year results ending 31 August 2018. Profits were up 29%, while sales increased 26% over the period, with strong growth in both the UK and abroad.

“It’s been another really great year of progress,” said Asos CEO, Nick Beighton, this morning. “We’ve been ramping up investments and capabilities at a faster pace than ever before.”

Beighton pointed to its UK market as the “standout performer” taking its increase of the market to 7.5%. Active customers increased 19% and order frequency was up 7%. While average basket value only increased by 1%, the total orders placed now totalled 63.2 million, up 27% year-on-year, fuelled by a 53% jump in its Premier customers (now hitting 1.3 million) who spend £9.95 a year for unlimited next-day delivery.

Technology investment

The online retailer said its tech capabilities continues to go “from strength to strength with its improving velocity”, demonstrated by 2,900 tech releases during the year, compared to 1,300 in the prior year. Over the year, the fashion e-tailer spent 50% of its total capex (£242 million) on technology and transformation programmes.

Milestones for FY2018 include new international websites and new languages; improved recommendation algorithms; and AI-driven launches around conversational interfaces, including the introduction of the chatbot Enki which can now be accessed via voice through Google Assistant.

Talent

But none of the 2,900 technology releases of 2018 would have been possible without internal digital talent. At the end of August the staff headcount at Asos hit 4,505 employees, 1,000 of which were technologists. Beighton said while Asos used to struggle to attract technology talent, a tipping point around four years ago meant technologists now flock to the fashion e-tailer because of the range of digital products they work on, as well as the real data they work with.

When questioned on whether Brexit and the question mark around the movement of labour may impact Asos and its ability to hire technologists, the CEO said: “I don’t know the answer to that one. It is one of the potential consequences of Brexit.

“For our current Asos employees we will be working within regulations, and making sure they have the appropriate visa in place. But if the flow of future talent will be impacted, I really don’t know.”


Essential Retail is hosting a webinar on 23 October to discuss the challenges surrounding attracting and retaining technology talent. Sign up to reserve your place to join Essential Retail, Moonpig, Kantar Consulting and Charles Russell Speechlys, where we will be discussing ways to access talent and how to mitigate against the impact of Brexit.

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