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How to overcome online growing pains

Value fashion etailer Everything5pounds started as an open-source platform eight years ago, and today has annual revenue of £40m.

But the challenge with using open source platforms is that once a business reaches a certain size, it can become difficult to introduce new features or make changes to the site.

Speaking at Drapers Fashion Forum 2018, Everything5pounds COO Robert Kulawik and Keros Digital co-founder and CIO Marco Zuliani outlined their learnings from replatforming the site.

1. Think about your site’s performance on mobile.

Everything5pounds has gone from starting with a fairly low percentage of users coming to the site through mobile, to having 60%-70% of sales on this channel today, Zuliani said.

The performance of a site now crucial for users, he added: “We know that users are impatient and if they have to wait one second then we lose 10%-20% conversion rate.”

2. Ensure online reaction times don’t impact your business

“We introduce 50 to 80 new styles every day,” Kulawik said. “When you consider that you introduce 500 new variants – which is the number of styles and colour options – and then you sell out as many every day, all of a sudden you are in a situation where there is a lot of noise on the system side [of things].”

The system was not able to react fast enough to these needs, and was holding the business back from its full potential, Zuliani said. The site needed a platform that could manage big catalogues and incorporate changes quickly such as removing items from the front end of the site when they go out of stock, and being able to quickly process orders or refunds.

3. Targeting new markets will create new online needs …

Everything5pounds currently operates mainly in the UK, but hopes to expand to international markets. To do this, its platform will need to have the capacity to manage multiple languages and price lists for different countries, Zuliani said. This will require “different websites with a different look and feel that are all working off the same physical stock”.

4. … and can create compliance issues 

Another area to consider is legal compliance.

“When you’re selling within the EU, you have to respect certain laws and tax regulations as there are sale thresholds for every country you want to sell in,” Zuliani said. But once these thresholds are met, the invoicing process changes quite dramatically. This needs to be taken care of by the system in [the most] automatic way possible.”

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