Technology advances mean even the most high-end of brands can deliver a personalised, luxury experience to their customers.
When flying first class, you’re on the same plane as everyone else, but the individual experience is vastly different. From more leg room to attentive service, this experience is everything. Experience ensures your customers can see and feel the value when they decide to spend the extra investment with you.
Similarly, the luxury retail environment is defined by its attentive store staff, VIP treatment, exclusive vibe and highly personalised experience.
Bespoke product recommendations and personal engagement give the buyer confidence in their purchase at such a high price point and offer a high-end, enjoyable experience. For many luxury customers, an in-person visit to a luxury store is a special treat they enjoy and look forward to, and the retail experience is as important as the items themselves.
Pivoting to digital
In the last few years, brands have had to move away from traditional bricks and mortar experience of in-store sales, pivoting to online retail as their customers spent less time on the high street, with over 17,000 high street shops closing in Britain in 2021.
However, with a strong wariness of ecommerce as ‘inherently antiluxury’, luxury goods made no rush to move into the world of online retail – the sector had no ambition to be like Amazon’s ‘everything store’ offering or even a high-end department store with a one-click and buy experience.
In 2018, only 10 percent of luxury purchases were made online. While this was up 4 percent from 2017, pre-pandemic spending habits meant luxury retail was primarily focused on in-person experiences, with their online offerings often acting as an “aspirational showcase” rather than a purchasing opportunity.
Leveraging ecommerce for luxury products
But today’s intelligent tech is now able to adapt online experiences to individuals, providing personalisation akin to a personal shopper in stores in the world of luxury ecommerce. The ability to make an experience all about polished fashion relevant to the individual, using customer data, means that luxury and ecommerce can now go together like Beyoncé and Balmain at Coachella in 2018. Spearheaded by some of the most exclusive brands, the time has come for luxury retail to step onto the ecommerce runway.
So, how can the ecommerce experience mirror the luxury retail experience?
1. Provide a seamless UX/UI experience
Many luxury ecommerce sites, by focusing on setting themselves apart from normal retailers, end up with a poor user experience. Sites are defined by difficulty finding items, limited photos or product details, and confusing terminology leaving customers feeling locked out and resulting in an industry average bounce rate of 46 percent. The balance has to be found between conveying exclusivity while avoiding a frustrating user experience.
It doesn’t need to be a choice between a luxury experience or good usability. Luxury brands switching to e-commerce need to make sure their digital customer service is as impeccable as their in person experience. The key to providing a seamless, premium experience lies in focusing on excellent UX and UI principles.
2. A flawless web design that matches your products
Many luxury brands view their items as works of art and this has to be reflected in the ecommerce sphere. The decision-making process for luxury purchases is highly emotional, and requires product details that spark interest, balancing visual design with other priorities. Beautiful, clear design conveys quality and exclusivity while also providing a frictionless user experience.
Known as a market leader in balancing visual design and usability, Rolex’s digital experience reflects their watches. Their online presence boasts minimalist visual design and large, clear photography, while keeping content easy to scan and understand.
3. Avoid last season's technology
One way of retaining the personal touch in the world of ecommerce is by harnessing the potential of developments in the metaverse and augmented reality. Gucci’s iOS app has an AR try-on feature for accessories and makeup and luxury brand Neiman Marcus has developed a mobile app, where personal shoppers can advise customers on what to buy.
Other brands have digital salespeople who can answer customer questions and, aided by a live camera, can zoom in and display different angles as they point out product features. By moving those relationships online, luxury businesses have focused on new sales channels such as WhatsApp and Zoom – and WeChat in China – to offer more personalised transactions and meaningful interactions.
Some brands are doing this particularly well - Chanel with ‘Reincarnation’ and Armani with its ‘Tweet Talks’ where it acts as host for conversations on relevant topics.
Harnessing this technology preserves the hard-won personal relationships luxury brands have always had with their high-net worth customers and can allow them to reach more customers unrestricted by geographical considerations.
4. Use personalisation and data to curate online experiences like a well-tailored suit
The real opportunity for luxury brands in the world of ecommerce is to use personalisation and data to reinforce those personal relationships with their customers. In real life, highly trained staff remember details about shoppers and their past purchases. In the world of ecommerce the brand has arguably much more insight into the right product recommendations and therefore the best upselling strategies.
Personalisation also offers the consumer quick access to relevant special events, styling suggestions or help with product repairs. Harnessing tools such as Contentsquare or Optimizely allow these brands to effectively use all the data available to them, to improve results, identify customers, test content and identify why potential purchasers drop off. By understanding the potential of customer data, brands can improve the digital experience they offer and drive higher sales and better engagement.
This is the luxury industry’s opportunity to explore, using insights gleaned from online user behaviour to enhance customer-salesperson relationships, not replace them – offering an online journey that matches the very best in-store purchasing experience.
Unsure where to begin?
If you’re ready to craft a luxury ecommerce offering for your customers why not sign up for a free optimisation workshop where we’ll help to rapidly identify quick wins to help improve the luxury experience of your digital product.