Many luxury businesses are reluctant about taking their goods online. Their worry is not being able to evoke the same exclusive and extraordinary service that they can convey in store.
Only a few months ago – Chanel – one of the strongest advocates of this notion changed its mind. Back in 2013, Chanel’s president Bruno Pavlovsky’s stated, “Fashion is about clothing. And clothing you need to see, to feel, to understand”. Recently however, Chanel has changed their mind about e-commerce. At the moment you can only purchase beauty and fragrance products from the iconic brand’s website. By the end of 2016 you will also be able to buy their apparel, accessories and shoes in just a few clicks.
McKinsey’s “Luxury Shopping in the Digital Age” forecasts luxury sales to more than double to about €20 billion by 2019. Additionally, their collaborative research with Altagamma Foundation shows that “an additional 40% of luxury purchases are influenced by consumers’ digital experience”.
However, innovative technologies and clever marketing techniques can provide online shopping experiences as good as in store, if not better. Not only can the right approach influence shoppers to purchase something offline at a later point, it can strongly increase their chances of purchasing online, right then and there. We’ve looked into the best ways luxury brands can offer a one-of-a-kind online presence, ones that tackle the most common perceived challenges.
Exceptional customer service
Exclusivity, the way a customer might experience in-store, is often perceived as impossible to translate into e-commerce. In a luxury store you’re likely to be exposed to extremely attentive customer service, some personal styling advice or even a glass of champagne! Now there are ways to do something similar digitally. This could include live chats, customer support sections, free next day delivery, attentiveness on social media or running surveys to learn more about your online customers. All it takes is to be empathetic and responsive to all types of feedback. Acting on the insights feedback gives you will help you stand out as a brand that does it right. At the moment not enough luxury brands do, which offers a great opportunity for you.
Little surprises with every purchase
One of the best things about leaving your favourite luxury brand’s store is a gorgeous little bag you can carry around for the rest of your shopping afternoon. Or, if you walk into Harrods and browse the beauty and fragrance sections you can count on samples. Especially when your customer is someone who considers their luxury purchases a treat, such a small gift can work wonders towards the likeability of your brand. So why not take this online and include a little gift with every delivery?
An extraordinary website experience
Entering a luxury brand’s store can be a remarkably powerful occasion, one that brands worry they couldn’t replicate online. However, various new techniques can help you create a similarly extraordinary experience. At the very basic, we suggest a mobile optimised website design. Your website has to be mobile responsive because three in four luxury shoppers own a mobile phone and around 50% of these own a tablet. Other ways to enhance the experience could include virtual fitting rooms (L.K. Bennett does it well) or regular, engaging content like that on Mr. Porter’s ‘The Journal’.
Having a responsive website plays a major role in optimising your e-commerce for mobile searches. But there are other aspects to take into consideration: Google search results display differently on mobile devices than they do on your desktop with fewer organic results. Not only does this mean you should be aiming for higher rankings, but also consider adding rich snippets to stand out. Mobile use is continuously growing, so it’s only natural for mobile search queries to follow that growth. More than half of luxury shoppers’ searches are already being carried out on mobile devices. Getting mobile SEO right is key.
“Going mobile, being social.” Those are the two key recommendations to take away from McKinsey’s research for luxury brands that decide to take their goods online. We highly recommend adding that special something, for example by gifting your online customers with every purchase. This will not only grow your likeability, something that is crucial in the age of social media, it will also show that purchasing from your website can have its very own perks. And these perks can be just as good, if not better than the offline experience you offer. So why don’t you start live chatting to your website visitors and include a little gift in their free next day delivery parcel? One last tip: If you have a unique hashtag, add it to your packaging, sit back and watch your Instagram community grow. Because if your online shopping experience is that good, people are naturally going to want to talk about it!