Co-founded by five fashion and online retail industry veterans and backed by a European internet agency, The Iconic seeks to lead the way in Australian online fashion sales.
Launched in October 2011, The Iconic is one of Australia’s largest online fashion retailers, delivering apparel and accessories alongside helpings of sage tips and advice on par with that of major overseas competitors. In some ways, The Iconic is even able to deliver where the international online giants can’t.
A collaborative venture from five co-founders, this business is backed by the European agency headed by the controversial Oliver Samwer, Rocket Internet, which is able to provide support not only in the form of financial assistance, but e-commerce smarts as well.
We managed to track down two of the founding members and Managing Directors, Finn Age Haensel and Adam Jacobs, in order to find out more about this formidable local force in online fashion.
Filling the Gaps
When analysing the Australian market for potential opportunities, the co-founders of The Iconic recognised the simple fact that many apparel sales were going to international players that were able to offer consumers more than the local bricks-and-mortar fashion shops could. ASOS had been growing in popularity since it first started shipping to Australia, to the point where the British fashion house had decided to open up warehouses Down Under.
The Iconic founding members recognised their opportunity: they could beat these international threats at their own game and potentially win back the Australian consumers for local retailers.
“Most of the Australians were buying fashion from overseas – from sites that don’t know the Australian market well and don’t offer great service to Australians,” says Haensel. “We wanted to make a difference and create an Australian retailer for all Australians and New Zealanders that puts a region lens on global trends.”
To that end, The Iconic team set about putting together a retail experience that would appear highly tailored to local consumers, with all the benefits and more of a large online retail operation.
“We don’t compete on prices, but we try to match all local prices to ensure our customers can trust us whenever they shop with us. We also want to create a strong community where customers can discuss fashion and ask for style advice,” Haensel says. “Most recently, we collaborated with local designer, ‘Toi et Moi Sydney’ at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, where we livestreamed the runway and offered the products on our website in real-time. Other retailers won’t get those products until October.”
As many other fashion retailers are beginning to realise, the power of content is immeasurable when it comes to selling products to customers who are used to trying product before they purchase. This means getting the right blend of editorial, graphics, video and user-generated content that provides the information consumers look for when fashion hunting.
“Fashion is about trends, about being up to date and about trusting that we know about the latest trends and good fashion. We really emphasize this through social media to foster that community through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Polyvore and many more,” Haensel notes.
However, even more work goes into producing The Iconic’s own magazine, which serves to ground its social media presence, providing a grounding framework and generating a sense of authority that a more casual blog and newsletter combination simply can’t engender.
DIY Wherever Possible
This homespun ethos; providing a local option for online fashion-starved consumers goes beyond the generation of a wealth of content. It extends even to the software solutions that The Iconic employs to render its webstore complete.
Having Rocket Internet’s backing goes a long way when creating bespoke e-commerce sites, as the company has already developed a number of other offerings worldwide. Therefore, lending web development talent to The Iconic’s cause was really a no-brainer. This is particularly crucial when trying to present a ‘tailored’ experience to a local market.
“We have the philosophy that we can only make a real difference in the market if we own the customer experience end-to-end,” explains Haensel. “This means we have a huge team of creative, hard-working and extremely smart developers who try to improve the shop every day to make it a great experience for the customer. Our ‘home grown’ shopping system is therefore completely tailored in-house.”
Of course, one element of an online retail offering that is extremely hard to solve without outsourcing is the fulfillment side of business. However, in The Iconic’s case, this doesn’t mean that shipping can’t also be a primary part of its overall offering.
“We have a very large warehouse in Sydney where we hold our products and we ship to all regions of Australia and New Zealand,” says Jacobs. “Within Australia we offer three hour delivery to Sydney customers on business days, and free express shipping to any location in Australia. For customers in cities and large towns, this means delivery is as fast as overnight.”
There is no doubt that The Iconic has a very solid, unique offering when it comes to purchasing fashion items online. Their webstore checks all the boxes when it comes to usability and interface, with a fast, comprehensive mega menu and intuitive site search. Product imagery is fantastic, with high-quality images available and built-in zoom options.
“While we can’t share any numbers, we can say that we’re very pleased with our results to date,” Jacobs says. “They show that Australians have been starved of a great local online fashion store, and we’re pleased to be here!”
Seeking more information on how to get an online retail venture off to a flying start? See our complete A-Z guide, Power Up: The Online Retail Entrepreneur’s Guide.