What makes the likes of net-a-porter.com; farfetch.com and luisaviaroma.com so successful in the eCommerce world of luxury consumer goods and services? Besides the impressive and alluring web design layouts, appropriate yet relatable use of language and inspiring and exclusive content, these eCommerce platforms all have a couple of things in common that has led them to being successful in a digitalized world. Discover top 5 E-Commerce opportunities for the luxury sector.
With the sales of online luxury goods being predicted to triple over the next decade it is in the interest of luxury brands to capitalize on this gross eCommerce development that is currently taking place. Consumers across the globe are now able to choose how they shop, when they shop and what they shop for. E-Commerce allows for a borderless and non- constrained experience to take place, which is becoming more and more appealing to the new age luxury consumer. The eCommerce luxury sector is expected to grow up to an astounding 70 billion Euros by 2025. Research conducted by Euromonitor had a look at the growth of luxury fashion markets across various countries and were able stipulate that between 2014 - 2018 the compound annual growth rate for France would be 21%, for Italy 19% and for the UK 18%. The most successful brands are aware of the changing landscape and are able to identify the opportunities that eCommerce presents within this field. These opportunities include:
1. Think global, act local
E-Commerce is a perfect way for luxury brands to extend their market reach more efficiently, targeting affluent customers on the global scale. Compared to brick-and-mortar where stores are confined to a physical location, selling online allows for these barriers to be broken down reaching consumers both far and wide. Seems easy, but in fact it can be the biggest obstacle for luxury brands to overcome. Local or regional characteristics may cause the content to be irrelevant to a potential target audience member. When a customer enters a retail store he/she is directly asked by a knowledgeable personnel “how may I assist you today?” or “are you looking for anything particular?” – questions that start building the first brand-consumer relationship. The high quality of offline services needs to be directly translated into online features. Therefore successful eCommerce stores have user-friendly navigation tools and endless options to narrow down the global experience to that of local specificity for their customers’ convenience. It is essential that the platform is functional above all.
2. Build trust in online shopping
The digital era has arrived and its not going anywhere, in fact its just getting bigger and faster and as the saying so goes ‘if you can’t beat em join em’. The eCommerce world is not so foreign as it once was; consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with the process of online shopping and navigating between sites. This will inadvertently lead to more consumers trusting the process of online shopping, which gives luxury brands a reason to create sustainable eCommerce platforms. 24/h customer service or live chat options are the elements that have been proven not only to enhance luxury customer experience but also highly increase the conversion rates and sales volumes. Burberry, for example, has a “call back” function that will inform a consultant to either contact a customer immediately, or at a selected time. Most of the luxury online retailers have already incorporated these features but smaller prestige brands are still left behind.
Affluent customers love seamless online experiences. What does it mean? Fast check-in, diverse and secure payment options, quick & free shipment policy, detailed tracking, beautifully packaged parcels on arrival, like the ones from Net-a-Porter, and an easy returns policy if need be, this is what successful eCommerce shopping is all about.
3. Offer innovative online exclusivities
Luxury brands were/are concerned with selling their products online as a result of the lack of exclusivity that may occur. The so-called VIP experience that consumers feel in store when purchasing a luxury product, is what brands are afraid may be lost. But there is a smart way to go about it. Offering unique, online-exclusive products can build curiosity and loyalty among UHNWI customers.
Hérmes offered their consumers bags online that were limited in stores or out of stock. This made it more convenient for consumers to purchase these bags, without having to worry about where to physically locate them. Featuring limited items online that are normally difficult to find in brick-and-mortar stores is an innovative way to ensure that exclusivity and the 'VIP experience' is upheld on the platform and that convenience and ease in locating products is maintained.
4. Invest in personalization
Complete customisation is of the utmost importance if an effective online experience is to be created and maintained. Understanding the needs of your customers, their journey and how they navigate from one product to another all the way up until check out is fundamentally important in creating the perfect customer experience. How-to guides, applicable and rousing fashion and lifestyle stories as well as style advice are all relevant offerings on the site that have made consumers feel well looked after.
Personalizing the customer experience is key to ensuring that your consumers feel valued throughout their customer journey. Your consumer should get the sensation that in fact the world does revolve around them and that their wish is our command. It’s all about creating a personalized experience, such as remembering the customer’s preferences, location, offering complementary products based on their history of purchase etc. In any relationship, whether online or off, it’s the little things that count.
Burberry is an example of a top performing luxury brand that has been able to harness the power of personalization. In 2011, this iconic British fashion brand was offering a new level of interactivity via Burberry.com by allowing customers to create their own custom trench coats called Burberry Bespoke. Customers were able to choose the style, fabric, color, hardware, and many more options. In fact, it allowed for up to 12 million combinations for those customers who wanted to create a totally unique trench coat.
Few years later, Burberry offered its customers the chance to personalize the classic Burberry poncho and scarf with their initials, exclusively via eCommerce. With more than 30 colors available, as well as 30 shades of thread for embroidering initials, it was the first time the company has offered so large a landscape of customization for accessories. Burberry has been one step ahead of the rest as a result of their innovative use of digital across all consumer touch points. It was all the way back in 2006 that CEO Angela Ahrendts stated that Burberry would become “the first fully digital luxury company”, and ever since her vision, has remained as one of the top digital luxury brand.
5. Create playful and inspiring content
Let the personality of your brand come through in a way that you can authentically communicate with your consumer. By playing a video that show cases your brands up and coming product releases in a smart and funny way or a brand story divided into several chapters building suspense, is something that can really only be experienced online. Relevant content of high quality with a human touch should be your primary focus. Humans are fickle by nature and engage with brands that they feel will be adding the most value to their lives at a given point in time, so make sure that what you’re saying about your brand and its offerings is something your consumers will trust and believe.