Oroton is the best multi-channel retailer in Australia?

Oroton has just won the multi-channel retailer of the year award. I do think they are a cool company with as strong retail proposition, but if the company is taking this award seriously then I would be worried.

They only declare that online is <10% of sales. But like-for-like sales are up +10% in Aus and +40% in Asia and total Revenue is up +12%. This means that online is only a fraction of total revenue. Whilst it is growing fast (+60%), I would not consider them to be a true multi-channel success story. Yet.

(I did not break down revenues from retail/wholesale or other revenues to get a more detailed picture.)

They have a really good-looking website (perfectly on brand) but there are some worrying signs for me.

The annual report kicks off with 16 full page colour images, which is somewhat excessive – even for a luxury brand – in an era when consumers and presumably investors keep an eye on all things green.

The following observations point to the hand of a third party (agency?) really running things as opposed the organisation that really gets social media:

  • Check out the Twitter profile and they only have about 2000 followers – quite insignificant for a strong brand. The feed is entirely self-promotional.
  • The Twitter algorithm suggests the sites that are most similar to them to be a few PR Twitter profiles.
  • They have a respectable 124K Facebook fans. Again, there is no meaningful sense of community and the Facebook wall is mostly promotional.
  • The fan growth has happened over a very short period of time and does not appear to be organic.
  • Digging a bit deeper, the profile of their Facebook fans are predominantly 18-24 year olds. I can’t be sure who they consciously target, but my observation is that it would not be the younger age groups. (For example the charity they support is Breast Cancer, which is usually something would point to a slightly more mature market.)

Social Media nous does not equate to multi-channel success, but arguably there should be a really good correlation.

The fact that revenues are small (albeit fast-growing) does not mean it is a multi-channel failure.

But if this is the best multi-channel retailer in the country then we have a very long way to go.

Oroton should be congratulated for being the best they can be. It is pretty good. But I have no doubt that they would be the first to admit that they are very much experimenting and learning about this multi-channel game.

I really hope that they did not let 'online' take their eye off the ball because the loss of Ralph Lauren brand is a much bigger thing to solve.

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