Net-a-porter.com's business continues to grow, and the company is moving in new directions.
Following a redesign of its Web site that increased sales, the company plans to take advertising in its online magazine and has hired fashion editor Colin McDowell of The Sunday Times of London as creative editor at large to oversee its editorial pages. In the fall, Net-a-porter will open a separate off-price retail site called TheOutnet.com.
"The beginning of the year was a bit soft," admitted founder Natalie Massenet, "but now it's rebounded enormously. We've had our biggest weeks ever in the last two weeks. The new Web site helped conversion. The average item price has gone from $1,000 to $1,200. We're encouraged by it."
While Net-a-porter has hundreds of thousands of customers, it also has 1.5 million unique visitors who come to the site to view its editorial content. Some are customers, some not, but the demographics of the two groups are similar, said Massenet.
The company hopes to innovate with online advertising that is more attractive to fashion firms than the usual banner ads, she said. "We're trying to upgrade the experience for everybody."
The ads will appear just like pages in a print magazine. Post-redesign, the online magazine looks like a print magazine or catalogue with pages that can be flipped or turned. It contains house ads and blank spaces now on pages where paid ads will appear in the future.
Only clothing brands that Net-a-porter already sells will be allowed to advertise, but jewelry, beauty and luxury firms are welcomed, said Massenet.
Net-a-porter already takes ads in its print magazine, Notes. She declined to reveal advertising rates.
Net-a-porter is not the first e-tailer to take advertising. ASOS.com and Amazon.com publish online ads, and the Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus print catalogues and magazines also feature advertising.
The redesign streamlined navigation and search. Pages are also wider. More recently, the company added foreign language pages for France and Germany, the largest of its 150 markets outside the U.S. and U.K.
Eventually, advertising could make up 10 percent of the company's business.
As for TheOutnet.com, it is a natural extension of Net-a-porter's existing business, she added. "We actually have that market in our business model and now we're going to pull it out. There is very little crossover between our full-price and sale customer." The new site will carry unsold, out-of-season items from the full-price site as well as off-price merchandise Net-a-porter never carried, said Massenet.
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