How luxury brands can elevate their ecommerce experiences

Technology advances mean even the most high-end of brands can deliver a personalized, luxury experience to their customers. Find out how below.
Alice Garland
Client Partner, Candyspace

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 personalized 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 the traditional brick and mortar experience of in-store sales, pivoting to online retail as their customers spent less time on the high street, with 17,219 chain stores 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’ or even a high-end department store with a one-click and buy experience.

In 2018, only 10% of luxury purchases were made online. While this was up 4% 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 personalization 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 end up with a poor user experience, as they’re more focused on setting themselves apart from normal retailers. When it comes to UX, luxury sites are defined by difficulty finding items, limited photos or product details, and confusing terminology, leaving customers feeling confused and resulting in an industry average bounce rate of 46%. The balance must 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 ecommerce 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 must 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. A 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 its watches. Its 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 aided by a live camera, which 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 personalized 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 personalization 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 personalization and data to reinforce those personal relationships with their customers. In real life, highly trained staff members 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.

Personalization 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 benefit 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 behavior 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, sign up for a free optimization workshop where we’ll help you rapidly identify quick wins to help improve the luxury experience of your digital product.

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