You know the frustration of buying clothes online? Browsing tens of pages with clothes your grandma wouldn’t even want to wear. End to this. ABOUT YOU has taken personalized online shopping to the next level and in this interview you will learn how the Hamburg-based company with 300 employees has built its success by engaging clients and giving them exactly what they want – to see, to wear, and to buy.
Zofia, E-commerce Capitals: How would you describe ABOUT YOU in several sentences?
ABOUT YOU is an online fashion shop that shows every customer only relevant products and content, referring to his personal preferences. For example, if I open the shop it says ABOUT STEFAN and my feed looks totally different than the one from my neighbor, because we like different brands, colors and styles.
Stefan Tobel: ABOUT YOU has been on the market for three years so far – what are the origins of this idea?
In 2013 the Otto Group initiated Projekt Collins in order to innovate the fashion e-commerce and provide access to a younger target group. The concept of ABOUT YOU was finally developed and implemented by the founders and CEOs Tarek Mueller, Sebastian Betz and Hannes Wiese. Today, around 300 employees at the headquarter in Hamburg continuously work on the further development, including different talents from various fields like business intelligence, online marketing, fashion and IT.
ABOUT YOU was the first open-commerce model on the German market. What was your goal?
The objective of open commerce is to use the creativity of all participants of the fashion market, especially of the customers and thus create new approaches to fashion, e.g. with outfits from users which other customers can buy. Our hypothesis is that one company cannot stay innovative permanently on it’s own. So we built the infrastructure and approached the logic of social networks, which mainly consist of user-generated content, to the e-commerce for the first time.
What makes ABOUT YOU different from other companies?
We focus on the integration of influencers and user-generated content as well as on personalized and inspirational content. Our goal is to create a place online, where customers can enjoy inspiring window-shopping like they do on the streets.
Does ABOUT YOU influence the decisions made by the customers?
Every company, which offers products or services, influences the customer behavior by providing different options. We try to facilitate this decision process by showing only relevant content from a range with more than 100.000 products from over 800 brands. If a user wants to see the whole range, he can deactivate the personal filter, we leave this decision up to him.
You had a TV ads campaign. How did it influence your company?
The campaign definitely increased our brand awareness and had positive effects on our performance marketing KPIs.
How would you describe the German fashion market in terms of ecommerce?
We think the market is big enough for several players and we are striving to enter the area of discovery shopping with ABOUT YOU. This segment offers the biggest market volume with the lowest online penetration. Customers who like to enjoy inspirational window-shopping can only do this on the shopping street so far. We want to be the first player transferring this form of shopping to the web.
ABOUT YOU has quite an unusual business model. Do you have any competitors? Do you look up to someone?
We try to think outside the box when developing products and get inspired by other industries like music streaming or social networks or even regions like Asia. At the end, we compete for the precious time of our customers who open apps like Facebook or Instagram several times a day. Our goal is to become an integral part of their every day life with our fashion community.
What is your goal for the upcoming years?
We still pursue a growth strategy and work hard every day to make our product even more inspiring and personal. Especially the mobile topic has become a major issue.
What, in your opinion, is the key to your success?
We are open for new ideas, act as quick as possible and focus on short development circles – in the end it’s all about making our customers happy.
What does ABOUT YOU treat as the biggest potential for growth in ecommerce? What will be “the next big thing“?
65% of our traffic already comes from mobile devices, so this is surely one of the most important topics for e-commerce with a lot of unused potential, as many companies still do not focus on a mobile first strategy.
ABOUT YOU is available in different countries. What are the differences compared to the German market?
ABOUT YOU is currently available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and every country has its own characteristics to which we respond. What we learned for example is that the Swiss are not as much into sale events.
Stefan Tobel (32) has been working at ABOUT YOU since 2014. As Director Shop & BI Applications he is in charge for the operation and further development of aboutyou.de and automated recommendations for customers. He also covers Business Intelligence related topics like tracking data-warehouse, product sorting and recommendations. Tobel, a graduate from ESCP Europe, worked in the corporate strategy department of the Otto Group as a consultant before joining ABOUT YOU.