With the emergence of e-commerce retail platforms, it might appear obvious that showcase websites are no longer relevant in 2017 – not even in the luxury sector. Yet, many high-end brands still use them, making it particularly frustrating for customers trying to add their favorite designers’ pieces to their (non-existant) carts. So, why are these luxury retailers still reluctant to embrace the e-commerce shift? Some high-end retailers prefer to have their wealthy shoppers visit their stores and try their products in person, so they use their sites to encourage store visits.
However, going to a luxury store is not always a pleasant activity. Some customers might feel out of place in high-end stores, with the sense that they’re being judged by sometimes-snobbish salespeople – like a real-live Pretty Woman moment – and today’s sales associates often serve customers with similar levels of product knowledge. In fact, with so much information available in the palms of their hands 24/7, affluent customers often end up knowing more about luxury goods than the sales associates who are supposed to be the experts. So, how can luxury brands ensure that they still offer outstanding customer experiences while remaining relevant in today’s technology-focused world?
Deliver a Superior Customer Experience
High-end brands should invest in the technology that best fits their needs, all while using a customer-first approach. Recent research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that an astonishing 80 percent of luxury shoppers – including older shoppers – demand omni-channel experiences. Customer experiences need to be seamless, as today’s shoppers expect the same level of service online and offline, no matter where they are in the world.
What’s more, omni-channel also means that customers demand integrated delivery service, identical promotions and rewards regardless of channel, and a consistent brand image. Today’s busy affluent shoppers demand convenience, and technology can help luxury retailers elevate the shopping experience to a whole new level. High-end brands are often celebrated for their deep domain expertise and keen eye for manufacturing detail, and need to apply the same level of precision and care to improve the service they offer. For instance, does your point of sale offer returns without receipts? Your high-end shoppers shouln’t need to worry about keeping a paper copy of their proof of purchase. Answering such simple questions can help luxury retailers understand whether or not they’re using the proper tools.
Empower Your Sales Associates
To remain relevant, luxury sales associates can’t rely solely on their extensive product knowledge, nor on their helpful intent. They should rather add a sophistication and edginess to the customer experience by using today’s technology to its fullest potential. A clienteling tool, for instance, can help personalize the shopping experience by making customers’ personal information available on mobile devices in a completely secure manner. It is also the perfect way to engage with customers in-store, and to nurture relationships over time.
What’s more, savvy brands can use a CRM solution to offer exclusive items to their most loyal customers and develop tier-based loyalty programs. By offering luxury items customers couldn’t otherwise find, store associates can truly add value to the customer experience and make their interactions all the more meaningful.
Go Beyond Customers’ Expectations
Luxury shoppers have high expectations and tend to be harder to please than regular consumers. Successful luxury department stores know just how to target the right customers by making the shopping experience both quick and convenient. For instance, many department stores now have a bridal category on their website, making it easier for customers to select the items they’ll need for the big day such as designer shoes or wedding accessories. By making their customers’ lives easier, high-end retailers can create endless opportunities and also attract customers that normally wouldn’t visit their websites.
Include Younger Shoppers in Your Sales Strategy
With Millennials now being the largest generation in America, it is critical that luxury retailers include them in their sales strategy. Younger shoppers want luxury retailers’ stores to be destinations more than simply transactional retail outlets. Today’s shoppers expect to enjoy all the interactions they have with your brand, both online and offline.
Having a strong brand identity is extremely important as well, as it can help you truly stand out. While there are many distinctive ways luxury retailers can market their brands, storytelling is a strategy that tends to resonate with younger people the most. Some retailers, like Jo Malone, have been particularly creative when it comes to incorporating storytelling into their brand. All the fragrances the famous entrepreneur creates have story elements to them that translate into the scents the entrepreneur creates, and most importantly, the customer is at the center of these stories. For instance, any customer can create their own candle by using two of their favorite scents and mixing them together.
Finding new fun ways to engage customers is particularly important to gaining their long-time loyalty, and provides the perfect opportunity to differentiate your brand from the competition.