While Australian retailers are struggling, foreign retailers continue to go from strength to strength, with Topshop and Topman attracting hordes of shoppers as the store opened its doors in Sydney this morning.
Customers camped overnight to be first in the hundreds strong queue to get in and Topshop put on 40 extra security guards with the expectation of 30,000 people going through the doors today alone.
Topshop’s flagship Sydney store, which covers over 1,800 square metres of the heritage listed Gowings Building on Sydney’s George Street, opens following what Topshop says is the “phenomenal success” of the retailer’s first Australian store on Chapel Street in Melbourne.
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Topshop and Topman Australia chairman Hilton Seskin talked to SmartCompany this morning from the shop floor and says the opening has been all about “the joy on the faces of Sydneysiders walking into the store.”
“Quite a number of people were camping out overnight and at 7am this morning there were hundreds of people waiting. There is a commitment to the brand, which is great,” he says.
So why is Topshop succeeding while many Australian retailers are struggling? We spoke to Seskin about the five secrets to Topshop’s success.
Topshop is one of the pioneers of ‘fast fashion’ and Seskin says Topshop prides itself on providing customers with immediate and affordable interpretations of catwalk trends.
“I think the most important for us in Australia is delivering to the market what Topshop stands for, which is quick turnaround at affordable prices,” he says.
Like the Spanish-owned Zara, Topshop succeeds by ignoring the traditional retail model where clothes are bought months in advance of arrival of the store floor.
Instead, Topshop flies stock into Australia from a central warehouse.
Seskin says Topshop’s production speed means it is able to constantly give customers fresh and new products while “still keeping a uniqueness about a limited distribution of styling to the market”.
“At the moment we fly product in two times a week and we are increasing that to three times a week, so there will be fresh drops in the store more than once a day.
“We are aiming for new product two to three times a day, so every time you walk in the door there are going to be new products.”
This approach encourages shoppers to buy a product as soon as they see it as they know it is unlikely to be there if they come back another day.
Keen pricing is key for Topshop and Seskin says prices like $30 for a t-shirt are “affordable” rather than cheap.
“Topshop is an international fashion mecca, so we ride on the back of economies of scale,” he says.
Pricing in store is similar to or lower than pricing online.
4. Location, location
TopShop has secured prime retail space for its stores in order to attract maximum attention and Seskin says the retailer has been careful to wait to secure the right spot in each instance.
“We are committed to two more stores in Melbourne next year with a flagship in Melbourne city and a store opening in Highpoint in March. For us it is about being in the right place at the right time,” he says.
5. Online and offline
Topshop uses its in-store offerings to complement its online offering, with Seskin saying pricing in store will be in line or lower than Topshop’s online store.
“It’s all about getting the units of product so whatever is online is in store,” he says.
“What people are loving most is that we are concurrent, so whatever we get in Australia you get in Oxford Circus [Topshop’s flagship UK store].”