Australian women love dresses and any occasion to get glammed up, according to Emma Mortimer, managing director of discount luxury e-tailer The Outnet.
The London-based website, which is part of the YOOX Net-a-Porter group, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The Outnet sells past season fashion collections at a discount, with pieces sought out and curated by its team of buyers. It counts Australia as one of its top five markets and, apparently, the item most "added to cart" down under is a frock.
“Six out of 10 purchases from Australian customers are some category of dress,” says Mortimer, who was in Sydney last week to host events for the site’s VIP customers.
Australians shopping on The Outnet seek out sustainable label Stella McCartney and Diane von Furstenburg (patron saint of the jersey wrap dress which liberated working women in the '70s). Local label Zimmermann apparently also “flies”.
Mortimer says consumers are now more likely to be shopping on their mobile phones on the commute rather than the traditional lunchtime desktop shop (“we used to see a big spike in traffic during lunch hour") and want to buy pieces they’ve spotted while scrolling through social media straightaway.
“There’s an immediacy, you see it on Instagram or on an influencer on social media and there is no patience or tolerance now, customers just want it,” she says.
“A precedent has been set of 'I see it now, and I want to buy it now'. So we are always thinking of how we can make that easier.”
For the broader business, this has meant streamlining the Outnet app, translating into local languages, and using geolocation to personalise the offering to each market.
Shopping online is big business for Australians. According to recent research from Roy Morgan, nearly 9.5 million Australians (46.8 per cent) purchase something online in an average four-week period. Fashion is the second biggest purchase category, after entertainment and leisure.
Australia Post predicts by 2020 one in 10 items will be bought online.
Australian online retailer The Iconic was visited more than 150 million times in 2018. Erica Berchtold, the site’s newly-appointed CEO, says there hasn't so much been a shift in the way people shop online than the online retail space has been influenced by consumers' growing expectations.
“The Australian and New Zealand retail industry across the board has undergone a massive shift in the past few years. From structural changes driven by online shopping, fierce competition and evolving customer preferences, the stakes have never been higher,” she says.
Berchtold says the site’s recent technological innovations such as "Follow The Brand", which helps personalise customers’ shopping experience, and image-based search technology "Snap to Shop", are helping to replicate walking into a store.
New US start-up Perfitly is attempting to recreate the changeroom experience using augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. After three years in development, the technology is being adopted by six brands, including New York based menswear label Descendant of Thieves.
Someone who knows the online appetite for luxury goods is Sweaty Betty PR boss and influencer in her own right, Roxy Jacenko.
On Friday, Jacenko finalised her online auction with the Lawsons group, selling four shipping containers worth of furniture and luxury goods which will no longer suit the style of her new family home in Vaucluse. The loot included a five-tier chandelier, a kid's Bugatti race car and Blainey North furniture.
Everything sold with the auction pulling in more than $64,000.
Jacenko says the experience caused “a few heated arguments with [Jacenko’s husband] Oli”. “He likes to keep everything and then there is me who will sell anything that is not bolted down. [With] the reno of our new family home there is a good job we have already spent the proceeds!"