Rocket-fuelled E-commerce: Q and A with Rocket Internet and The Iconic

By Campbell Phillips | 15 Aug 2012

Few e-commerce businesses have attracted as much attention in Australia as The Iconic. We recently spoke with Rocket Internet’s Oliver Samwer and The Iconic’s Finn Age Haensel on this venture’s development.

Rocket Internet is renowned for making waves around the globe in e-commerce.

The Berlin-based digital incubator’s aggressive style has become infamous, while making a distinct impression on every market that Rocket enters. In Australia, Rocket Internet has unleashed a serious player in fashion retail, The Iconic, with a hydrogen-fuelled marketing boost, propelling the brand to a status befitting its name.

Power Retail chats one-on-one with Co-founder of Rocket Internet, Oliver Samwer, and Co-founder of The Iconic, Finn Age Haensel.

The Iconic has made a stir among Australian online retailers because of the speed at which the company has been able to claim market share. What was involved in producing this business?

Rocket Internet's Oliver Samwer

Rocket Internet’s Oliver Samwer.

Samwer: We already had a great team in Australia who all had experience in retail and management before. They analysed the market and after that, got started immediately in planning the business. One of our advantages is that we have a lot of experience in our network with managing and building great online companies. For us in Australia, the mix of this experience with local market knowledge was the key to getting started quickly. We had a planning phase of approximately three months before we officially launched The Iconic.

Rocket Internet has a track record of identifying new markets for online businesses. What sort of qualities do you look for in a new marketplace? What was it about Australia that made it seem like it was ready for The Iconic, with fast free shipping, 100 day returns, etc.?

Samwer: We look at different internet markets and look at key KPIs like GDP, growth of e-commerce etc., but also at what stage the specific country is when it comes to e-commerce. In the past, Australia was mainly dominated by discount sites that had a relatively low profile on convenience. When you look at the USA or Europe, convenience is the new big wave in e-commerce and because we knew that this worked in other countries, we wanted to become a pioneer in Australia when it comes to speedy delivery, easy returns and good customer service.

Zalando has a popular Europe-wide print fashion publication. Are there any plans for THE ICONIC to head down a similar path in print?

Haensel: The Iconic magazine was already published in May this year and was a huge success. We initially had a relatively ‘small’ circulation of 50,000 which mainly went to our own customers. However, by the end of August the second magazine will have come out. This edition will have a much higher circulation, focusing not only on existing customers but also other fashion-interested Australians.

What are your predictions for the local Australian fashion retail industry? Are there technologies, products or other offerings that we should keep an eye out for in the near future?

Co-founder of The Iconic, Finn Age Haensel.

Co-founder of The Iconic, Finn Age Haensel.

Haensel: Reducing the remaining barriers to shop online will be one of the big challenges for the market. Therefore, all e-tailers will work to come up with new ways to offer a great online experience based on superior technology. The Iconic already has some very promising ideas in the pipeline that you should watch out for.

Are there more niches to be explored in the Australian online retail market and do you have any plans for more ‘Rocket-fuelled’ start-up opportunities here?

Samwer: Rocket is always interested in new business opportunities and we have been present in the Australian market for a while now. Australia is a very young market when it comes to e-commerce and we actually see a lot of future potential here.

What comes next for The Iconic? Do you have any news about upcoming developments or new directions that the business will be exploring?

Haensel: We soft-launched in the New Zealand market a few weeks ago and just migrated into some new categories; namely Sports, Kids and Surf and also Skate. Our biggest focus is currently to grow and manage these businesses, while also offering our customers a great shopping experience here.

Furthermore, going forward we will continue to test our ideas as to how to become even more attractive to our customers. These plans may include looking into some new categories, however The Iconic will always remain a fashion-focused retailer, as this is our main competency.



2 thoughts on “Rocket-fuelled E-commerce: Q and A with Rocket Internet and The Iconic”

  1. Baz says:

    Totally agree with Haensel – it is about breaking the barriers from bricks and mortar and enabling clients to have a similar experience as in store. If it will be a virtual fitting room or a virtual walk in store where you can interact with sales staff and other clients as you would in a real store the social aspect and the try before you buy is the key to the online future I feel…

  2. Kent says:

    Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, excellent

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