LONDON, United Kingdom — On September 16, Yoox will unveil a new website, mobile site and app, featuring a sleeker, more luxurious appearance and new editorial content streams that take a leaf out of sister company Net-a-Porter’s book. Last year, the two companies merged in a deal forming the world’s largest fashion e-tailer, which posted net revenues of €1.7 billion (just over $1.9 billion) in 2015.
The move is one of the first key manifestations of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group’s five-year plan, unveiled in July, to deliver net revenue growth of 17 percent to 20 percent at constant exchange rates through 2020 by increasing conversion rates, customer engagement and implementing a “mobile first” strategy across the Group’s websites. Yoox Net-a-Porter Group posted net revenues of €897.0 million (just over $1 billion) for the first half of 2016, up 15.8 percent at constant exchange rates from the first half of 2015.
“[The new Yoox.com is] exactly in line with the guidelines that we have defined in the five-year plan,” Luca Martines, president of off-season at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group told BoF. “We will have an improvement of the assortment, we will improve the customer experience based on user behaviour, historical purchases, more editorial content,” he said. Federico Marchetti, chief executive officer of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, declined to comment for this article.
Visitors to the new website will see what Martines calls a “quite radical change” in layout, with glossy photoshoots and editorial content — produced in-house — and new, exclusive collaborations and limited edition products from brands including Marni and Margherita Missoni.
The new Yoox.com will also be personalised, with product recommendations based on each user’s purchasing and browsing history, and the weather near them. “The most important change has been the customisation,” said Martines. “Users are now living with their smartphones. They expect to have easy access to what they’re looking for and predictive suggestions of what they are looking for.”
Yoox, which launched as an online purveyor of discounted, end-of-season fashion merchandise in 2000, has traditionally focused on back-end excellence, powering full-price e-commerce sites for brands including Valentino, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. The new site signals a shift to focus on front-end areas like customer experience, editorial content and “luxurious” imagery — all of which Net-a-Porter excels in.
“Yoox, with the merger of Net-a-Porter, now has increased its experience and its ability in editorial content, in presenting the products in a certain way, which is more high-end, which is more luxury than an off-price seller of the product,” said Mario Ortelli, a senior luxury goods analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
Yoox last refreshed its website in October 2014, and the new site reflects how consumer expectations around e-commerce have changed since. “We said mobile first or mobile only,” said Martines. Consumers can shop seamlessly across Yoox’s website, mobile site and app channels, and on different devices. “A user who is adding items to a shopping cart on the desktop will find exactly the same thing on the mobile app or the mobile site.”
Users are now living with their smartphones. They expect to have easy access to what they’re looking for.
“The attention of the users is lower,” added Martines.“Merchants must be really good at catching the attention of the consumers.” With this in mind, Yoox has invested in editorial content — another area of expertise for Net-a-Porter, which publishes The Edit, a weekly online magazine, and Porter, a bi-monthly print publication. “Especially after the merger, [Yoox Net-a-Porter Group] have learned from colleagues and improved our capabilities in creating editorial content that is strictly related to the product,” explained Martines. “We can combine the more commercial parts with broader entertainment stakes.”
The new editorial content streams include Style Notes, a series of interviews and product curations by fashion figures like Jade Jagger and Italian-Brazilian accessories designer Paula Cademartori. Yoox.com has also refined its image guidelines and the editorial descriptions for products on the site, aiming to deliver a more refined shopping environment. “We have been strongly reinforcing the teams — the editorial teams, the brand marketing teams,” said Martines, adding that the relaunch has required “investment rather than reorganisation” at the company.
The success of the new site will be measured against Yoox’s main business KPIs, including increasing Yoox's customer base, conversion rate, engagement rate and average order value. Monthly traffic to Yoox.com in the last six months peaked in March at 9.2 million total visits to desktop and mobile web, dropping to 8.1 million visits in July, according to data from web analytics provider SimilarWeb. During that period, Yoox was overtaken in terms of traffic by Farfetch.com, which received 8.6 million visits in July, according to SimilarWeb. Yoox Net-a-Porter Group does not break out monthly traffic for Yoox.com.
In the first half of 2016, 3.9 million orders were placed with Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, compared to 3.3 million in the first half of 2015. The average order value across Yoox Net-a-Porter Group dropped to €335 in the first half of 2016, down from €354 in H1 2015. Giving users personalised product recommendations will lead to “a positive impact on the overall order value,” predicted Martines. Yoox declined to share specific targets for its KPIs, but said that tests in which a group of customers have been given early access to the new website yielded an increase in order value and in the number of items added to each customer’s shopping cart. The new Yoox.com will not host advertisements.
But is it enough? Yoox.com is operating in an increasingly competitive fashion e-commerce environment, and is up against alternative business models like flash sales sites or companies like Farfetch and Lyst, which do not hold inventory, as well as new players like Condé Nast’s Style.com, which relaunched as an e-commerce platform at the beginning of the month. “An environment like this is challenging part of Yoox’s competitive advantage,” said Ortelli.
According to Martines, the unusual assortment of product on Yoox.com sets it apart from other fashion e-commerce players. “Yoox has a wide assortment of menswear, womenswear and childrenswear, and a selective in-season product on design, capsule collections — quite a unique assortment, not easily found in this volume online, or even in physical retail,” he said.
However, much of this unique assortment depends on the fact that Yoox also powers e-commerce sites for luxury brands, whose merchandise it also sells on Yoox.com at a discount at the end of the season. “If you’ve got a full-price operation, you’ve got at the beginning of the season [the] new inventory and all the pictures of the product, so you can sell them off-price in a faster way than anyone else,” explained Ortelli. (All imagery featured on Yoox.com is shot in-house.) “I would think many brands are trying to internalise the sale online of full-price products, so this competitive advantage is diminishing.”
Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 8 September, 2016. An earlier version of this article misstated that Yoox.com will feature end-of-season design products and capsule collections. This is incorrect. Yoox.com will feature in-season design products and capsule collections.