Luxury retailers are very different from the rest. Questions you should be asking include, how can we create the optimal conditions to turn every affluent shopper into a happy return customer? What are the proven ingredients in crafting the ultimate luxury customer experience?
In many cases, today’s consumers have access to more information than associates: forums, reviews, product details, photos, social media, videos. They expect associates to have the insider intel: knowledge of the products and brand secrets that only someone on the inside would know. A recent study found that 50% of affluent shoppers in the US said they shopped in-store because they believed it provided better customer service than other channels. However, 70% of affluent consumers report feeling disappointed by the sales and service staff and believe that they do not make positive personal connections during shopping experiences. Your customers believe in your associates: don’t let them down! Arming associates with mobile solutions such as digital product catalogs (Look Book) and clienteling can be a great way of ensuring that all associates, even part-timers or new recruits, have the knowledge of the enterprise in their hands.
Affluent consumers want to shop on their own schedule. When they’re shopping leisurely, they don’t want to be rushed, but when they’re in a hurry (and they often are), retailers must ensure that the shopping experience and, perhaps most importantly, the checkout experience, are as rapid and streamlined as possible. It may seem ironic: the same young professional who will patiently wait 18 months for the exclusive handbag in the color she wants will not wait two minutes to pay for the matching wallet in-store. Perception and timing are key: the best associates know their top customers well enough to learn when to lavish hours of attention on them and when to get them out the door quickly. Meeting the affluent consumer where they expect has wider reaching consequences than just a single purchase, as every such interaction is a building block in the brand’s service reputation. Reputation matters when it comes to building loyalty and influencing repeat business: 84% of U.S. shoppers take a company’s customer service reputation into consideration when shopping. So, pleasing one customer has wider-reaching consequences on traffic than that single individual. How can retailers achieve the right balance between providing hands-on, attentive service and rapid checkout experiences when they’re mandated? Mobile solutions like mobile POS and clienteling can be great tools empowering associates to provide rapid and informed service wherever and whenever the customer desires, and at the pace she desires.
Although communicating via social messaging, SMS/MMS and other means may be more and more popular in general, e-mails still seem to be the way into affluents’ digital inboxes, with 49% of respondents in a recent survey saying they had or were somewhat/very likely to opt-in to receiving e-mails from a luxury brand. What’s important is that retailers not only obtain consent for each communication method, but also determine the client’s preferred contact method by developing personal, face-to-face relationships aided by clienteling tools to record the data in a secure manner. Respecting the client’s preferred method of communication will make messages more likely to be seen, and thus, more impactful. Equally important is to personalize the content of communications with relevant messaging, which customers unquestionably appreciate and which also tends to deliver higher conversion rates.
Informed associates, timely service, and personalized communications are important foundational building blocks in any retail business, but even more critical with demanding luxury shoppers. Implementing the right technology tools to support these imperatives is essential to compete for the affluent shopper’s attention and loyalty.