‘The customer that retailers and brands thought was buying discount is not who is buying discount at all,’ says Stephanie Phair, managing director of The Outnet. ‘This is a very valuable consumer.’
Since its launch four years ago, The Outnet has grown at the same time as a big change in the industry. The discount space has been transformed from being about dirty sample sales that fashion and luxury brands did not want to talk about, to something that involves much more of a conversation. ‘The internet changed that, and made the whole product selling cycle [from designer to runway show to retailer to sale to outlet merchandise] much more transparent [for consumers],’ says Phair.
The Outnet now works directly with 250 brands, and part of that relationship involves collaborations with designers from Erdem to Stella McCartney.
‘With collaborations, there can be overkill,’ says Phair. ‘For us, they need to make sense and offer something that brands are not already offering consumers. It’s a win-win for the brands. It helps them build in additional product runs and create volume out of merchandise ranges. For the customer it’s about the ability to buy something unique.’
Top five take-outs
1. Know your customer and expect the unexpected when it comes to shopper profiles. Phair says her customers have a distinct mindset with high individual incomes, but shop lo-hi across product categories.
2. Be collaborative. The Outnet works closely with designer brands such as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney to maximise product runs exclusively for the site.
3. Recognise fast growth. By being global from day one, The Outnet has been able to react quickly to top-performing markets with dedicated marketing material.
4. Educate the consumer about buying Discount Luxury. ‘We sell luxury in a discount world – our brands warrant attention for the value on offer,’ says Phair.
5. Make content seamless across multiple devices. M-commerce is core to The Outnet’s proposition because customers have a mobile shopping journey that is more about purchases via smartphone or tablet than via desktop computer.