“We had a strategic plan in place pre-COVID, and instead of putting our ‘foot on the brake’ in the face of uncertainty, we chose to hit the accelerator. Key customer and partner initiatives, ideas and iterations that would have previously taken 6 to 12 months have been executed in as little as three months in 2020.”
The Iconic created a Covid Task Force in February 2020 to prepare for the impacts of Covid-19 should it reach Australian shores. This meant the business was ready to act in March when the virus began to surge in Australia. New safety protocols were introduced at warehouses and key business units moved to work entirely from home.
Throughout 2020 the online retailer opened The Iconic Outlet, launched new dedicated beauty and toy destinations, received official endorsement for its first Reconciliation Action Plan and transitioned to 100 per cent recycled delivery satchels.
“These are big milestones for a ‘normal’ year, let alone one where we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,” Berchtold says.
“Ultimately, as a pure-play online retailer, we’ve been fortunate in having a nine year head start when it comes to e-commerce. Home to over 16 million onsite visits a month, we were lucky in being able to tap into our existing infrastructure, operational processes and systems to ensure we were in the best position to respond to the surge in online shopping across 2020.”
The Iconic has added beauty, wellness, kids toys, and accessories to its range, to be a “true one-stop-shop”.
Berchtold says the new launches are a natural evolution of The Iconic’s product assortment, offering customers more choice online and had been in the works pre-Covid.
The retailer also fast-tracked the opening of a new standalone storefront, The Iconic Outlet, with savings starting at 50 per cent off or more on an assortment of quality discounted and end-of-season looks from The Iconic’s main catalogue.
“With the surge of online shopping, and people spending even more time at home, we saw there being an even greater need to accelerate the introduction of these new categories and further enhance our onsite experience,” Berchtold says.
“Plans to create The Iconic Outlet had always been on the cards, however to meet the changing needs of both our consumer and partner brands, we knew it was an initiative we had to fast track during Covid.”
“The key customer drivers for us in this launch included being able to fully segregate off-season stock from in-season items on The Iconic’s main catalogue, tailoring our experience across both offerings and delivering a bespoke environment for discount driven shoppers. While for our brands, it offers a unique business model to sell off-season stock in an elevated way.”
On the sustainability front, the business continues to make progress on its 2020-2025 sustainability and diversity, inclusion and body-positivity objectives which were outlined in The Iconic’s inaugural Annual Progress Report in November 2019.
“Despite the challenges that were navigated throughout 2020, The Iconic has remained fully committed to genuine and ongoing change to help push for a more progressive fashion and retail landscape,” Berchtold says.
“Looking to 2021, our focuses as a business will continue to be working towards the goals set out in our Annual Progress Report – which, pending the objectives and complexities involved, are scheduled to be delivered either in 2022 or 2025.”
Key goals to achieve by 2022 include:
- 100 per cent of shipping packaging made of recycled content.
- 80 per cent of energy from green sources and warehouse solar operational.
- 80 per cent of waste diverted from landfill across all sites and 100 per cent of waste diverted at the fulfilment centre.
- 100 per cent of our private label brands have incorporated size extensions.
In 2021 adaptability and speed will continue to be necessary to meet customer expectations which have been reset higher throughout the pandemic.
“History shows that society shifts and new things are born when crises hit, and while complete with its challenges, times of disruption offer unique opportunities to rethink the way you do what you do and really lean into innovation,” says Berchtold.
“Also, a conversation I would like to see shaping discourse on the retail landscape moving into 2021 is what is at the heart of retail success in our new normal. 2020 has been testament to the idea that retail success is not only about ‘online vs. offline’. Rather, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of customer relevance and has accelerated the need to be more relevant than ever before.
“It is no longer simply a matter of the experience you offer online or in-store, it is about ‘showing up’ for your customers – offering a product assortment, customer experience and channels of engagement that resonates with them and their evolving values and needs.”
This article was published as part of the Australian Retail Outlook for 2021. To download the report, click here.