Online Trend – Retailer Outlet Sites

There’s a growing trend amongst UK retailers (mainly in the clothing/department store sector) to launch an “outlet” site to help clear sale / last season’s stock.

This is being implemented differently by different retailers.

  • Debenhams have placed their outlet on their main website, essentially using it as an all year round sale section. This has 2 key benefits (i) it avoids the negative impact on the brand of appearing to be permanently on sale (ii) it builds on the positive feelings consumers have towards the increasingly trendy outlet villages such as Bicester Village.
  • Net-a-porter have taken the designer outlet village idea online with the recently launched – a must for any high fashion fan. Here they’re separating it entirely from their main site (you’ll be hard pressed to find a link to it), so as not to affect their brand, or full price sales.
  • Warehouse have also gone down the separate site route, but with clear links between it and the main Warehouse website. Interesting they’ve also expanded the outlet idea into a standalone store on Oxford Street. Bringing the outlet concept to the UK’s main high street.
  • Outside the world of fashion Dell are looking to build on their USA success with their UK Outlet store. In the USA Dell claim to have driven over $1m sales through advertising their outlet’s offers on Twitter, and they’re looking to do this in the UK too. In fact a search for “dell uk outlet” on Google already has the UK Twitter page in 4th position.

It’s clearly an action that’s working for those who are doing it – so how can you replicate this on your website?

Well, first of all is it relevant to you? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then read on!:

  • Do you have a large amount of stock to clear all year round?
  • Do you worry about the brand impact of having “Sale” advertised on your site all year around?
  • Do you have a lot of returned items that you you would like to refurbish & sell / sell at a reasonable price?

The simplest way to implement is to re-name your Sale pages outside of your key sale seasons. Just be careful it doesn’t have a negative impact on your SEO.

If you’ve got the budget and the time you could invest in a separate site as Warehouse and theOutlet have done.

Alternatively you could take advantage of the traffic volumes of eBay and set up your own shop there.