LONDON — Six months to execute. No extra budget. The launch of a new — and unproven — luxury category online.

The team at Net-a-porter.com raced against the clock to set up the new category Net-a-sporter, which launched last July in response to customer demand and to a desire to harness revenue from a fast-growing market segment.

“We engage with our customers one to one, we survey them, we have questionnaires that go out every week. From all the data that came back we knew that sport was a category that we were going into,” said Heather Kaminetsky, vice president of marketing and sales for the Americas at Net-a-porter Group.

Kaminetsky said one of the big challenges in choosing products for the new category was how to be relevant to customers living in different climates around the world and taking part in a variety of seasonal sports and events.

The site based its research on feedback from 4,000 women worldwide, and quickly realized it would have to speak differently to athletes ultraconcerned about performance — such as marathon runners — and yogis who want to leap straight from the sticky mat to a green tea date with friends.

The retailer, which put the project together in six months midway through the financial year with no extra budget, thought globally: It launched Sporter simultaneously in New York, London and Hong Kong; aligned itself with activities such as the U.S. Open, and launched campaigns to match big, exclusive sporting events during the calendar year.

It also tackled the question of how yoga pants would sit alongside ballgowns on the site. “In the end, we actually created a category called Sport, but much of the merchandise that you see could apply to different categories, so you can find it and paginate it throughout the Web site,” said Kaminetsky.

Over the past 10 months the team discovered that the average order value of the Sporter basket was just as high as the Net one. “You would think the price points were a little lower and that the AOV would go down, but it didn’t. It stayed, and that was actually a huge surprise for me,” she said.

The site launched with 16 brands and now stocks 61 for categories including ski and après ski, equestrian, golf, yoga/dance, sail and tennis. The challenges remain.

“Every week we hear about a new sport. I didn’t even know how many sports there could be, and we have to always prioritize, so we’re never going to be everything to everyone,” she said.

The team also figured out how to speak to its audience. “The content that we produce is probably a 60-40 balance of lifestyle versus technical. We try to balance and provide content for both women, but I would say we probably focus more on the less performance than we do the athlete.”

Testament to the initial success of the category is the launch earlier this week of Mr Sport on Net’s brother site, Mr Porter.

Kaminetsky said, “there is a lot of competition coming in now through the sport category that we’re constantly watching. So what’s next? Watch this space.”

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