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How to Benchmark an Online Clothing Website

Firstly, every clothing retail business has unique aspects and goals, so our benchmarking for online retail clothing is Australian orientated and we do not take into account special circumstances. We are dealing with 20+ brick-and-mortar/online Australian store models.

A few years ago, the pure online play like ASOS.com led the pack.

In 2015, it is clear that the unified brick-and-mortar/online combination is the strongest retail model. For example, pure online models like ASOS.com and theiconic.com.au are now considering brick-and-mortar outlets, as their online growth has slowed significantly.

H&M, Zara are traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who have responded to the pure digital plays and raised the online bar to new levels. One of the keys to success for the brick-and-mortar/online combinations is the ability to connect with customers both in-store and online. The combination drives a deeper connection with customers, as contrasted with the pure online play.

Jamie Merriman, retail analyst at Bernstein opines that online plays cannibalize brick & mortar. This could not be further than the truth.

A strong connection with customers online drives in-store sales. Online announcements of new products, sales, and fashion trends is a key driver to in-store success. A critical cost factor is that online is the only pure vertical play of a retailer. Brick-and-mortar retailers are beholden to Landlords, onerous Leases and generally, there is a gross fixed rental cost of circa 20%. Online fixed costs is less than 7% for brick-and-mortar large retail operations.

Online retailing is integral to a retailer’s success. There maybe outliers, but they are the exceptions.

Let’s look at the benchmark for online sales for a Australian 20+ stores brick-and-mortar/online retailing. We have obtained our figures from 40+ retail chains, primarily Australian-based.

Online % of Total Sales Ranking
15% Unicorn
10% Excellent in 2015
6-7% Average in 2015
Below 6% Remedial

2015 GROWTH TARGETS

Now, let’s look at the online growth rate benchmark, which is more cumbersome, as the knowledge graph for online clothing is different for each country. Our best data is again from Australian-based retailers, so we will benchmark accordingly. The Target Growth Rate (TGR) is achievable and anything greater than the TGR is considered above average. Any numbers lower than the average will require more dedicated online focus.

Online % of Total Sales Target Growth Rate
15% 20%+
10% 30%+
6-7% 45%+
Below 6% 65%+

H&M, in 2014 the best brick-and-mortar retailer in the world, does it brilliantly. H&M combines brick-and-mortar retailing with a unified online purpose. H&M retail and online both act as one. In 2014 H&M set the benchmark, with the combination of brick-and-mortar and online retail. In 2015 the chances are a new leader will rise.

In Australia, CottonOn demonstrates the same unity of purpose as H&M and is easily the best combination brick-and-mortar/online retailer. CottonOn is achieving 10% online sales, which equates alone to over $100M in online sales.

Some companies have got it right already, but most companies do not.

In our next update, we will look at benchmarking a clothing retailer’s “bounce rate”. How to take the early steps.