Luxury shopping is evolving. The impact of the millennial consumer, market fragmentation, changing influencers and diminished customer loyalty, mean luxury retailers and brands must adapt to sell to new demographics.
As product inspiration and discovery shifts online, creating a luxury shopping journey fit for the digital era – combining the right products with personalised ‘wow’ moments to compel a sale – has never been more important.
Our recent research into luxury shopping revealed that for these shoppers, mobiles were almost as likely to be the start of a shopping journey as the physical stores. A mobile first strategy must form the bedrock of personalisation and increased engagement.
When asked what they regard as essential from their online experience, more than a quarter of luxury shoppers said being able to find new products easily was most important. Another 15 per cent felt that the ability to virtually ‘try on’ goods and styles topped the list.
However, this must be placed into the context that service is still paramount. Detailed knowledge of previous shopping habits was an essential feature for 14 per cent of luxury shoppers and a lack of customer knowledge, as seen in impersonal or irrelevant recommendations, were the biggest frustrations for 13 per cent of those surveyed.
Modern online shopping also needs to excel at helping shoppers navigate the maze of factors that impact on product discovery. Our research found that social media content viewed on a brand website was the most favoured tool for this. Trending product recommendations came in second place.
Interestingly, quick, direct access to favourite product categories, based on prior behaviour on-site or recommendations made by shoppers with similar interests, came in third as a way to direct the discovery of products. This suggests that retailers and brands willing to invest in the technology to ‘remember’ customer preferences will see a strong return.
Even luxury retailers must consider price sensitivity. Over 80 per cent of online luxury shoppers are likely or very likely to shop around for the best price. This underscores the need for luxury brands to create direct-to-consumer experiences which embody the brand at every touchpoint – reducing the impact of price competition as fewer customers leave brand sites to shop around.
Consumers generally buy based on two considerations. The first is the emotional connection they feel with a brand/retailer/product. The second is logical consideration — knowing that the product meets their needs. Either journey must be friction free, especially in the luxury segment, where consumers are more likely to choose to pay a premium.
Many of these characteristics are the hallmarks of the traditional luxury shopping experience. Success for many luxury brands and retailers is measured by their ability to build an exclusive community of shoppers devoted to their brand and the experience it offers. Transitioning this experience to digital channels has been necessary, but it has created new challenges in trying to replicate the personal connection of offline shopping in a digital environment.
Driven by advances in machine learning and AI, luxury brands and retailers now have the ability to forge emotional, personal connections with luxury shoppers, at scale. Creating these personalised discovery and inspiration experiences across the shopper journey will unlock the premium experience young luxury shoppers expect today.
Credit: Jon Stephens, Director of Customer Experience at Attraqt.