July 24, 2013, 2:58 PM

UK fashion e-retailer Asos plans to launch an e-commerce site in China

Asos last year opened an office in the United States.

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Asos Plc Holdings, a U.K.-based fashion retailer, will launch an e-commerce site in China using technology from hybris AG.

Asos is No. 32 in the recently published Internet Retailer Europe 500. According to that guide, its sales increased nearly 41% year over year in 2012.

The move into China represents the latest international push by Asos, which a year ago opened an office in New York, and which says the United States is its No. 2 market after the United Kingdom. The company has said it aims to become the top global fashion destination for twenty-something shoppers.

“Within the [Asia-Pacific] region, China is recognized as being the primary driver of growth and, as such, it’s a market in which we want to be a major player,” says Pete Marsden, chief information officer at Asos.

The Asos China site, scheduled to launch in October, will use the hybris Commerce Suite e-commerce software. Asos will also offer Chinese consumers a mobile-optimized site.

The retailer has established a team in China that will manage the business there as an autonomous unit, says Paramjot Jassal, head of business transformation-international, for Asos. "We realize that to be competitive in the Chinese market we need to be both close to the customer by operating from within China but have the team respond to the wants and needs of the customer from China," he says.

China will also be the first country outside the U.K. where Asos will operate a distribution facility. "The Chinese customer is one of the most demanding customers in the world," Jassal says. "In tier 1 cities same-day and next-day deliveries are the norm. To compete we knew we would have to have our product in country close to the customer." The term "tier 1" refers to China's largest cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Asos says it has 6 million active customers, sells some 60,000 products and ships to 214 countries. It also operates e-commerce sites in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia and Russia.

In June, Germany-based business software company SAP AG said it would buy hybris, which will operate as an independent unit. Hybris is ranked eighth among vendors of e-commerce platforms in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-Retailers guide.


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