5 ways to digitally transform luxury retail

March 18, 2015

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Luxury brands lose approximately 50% of their top customers every year, according to recent research from The Luxury Institute and Epsilon. Rather than sit back and allow revenues to shrink, top luxury brands and retailers are turning to digital to transform their customer’s experience. Here are just a few of the ways we’re seeing them do it:

1. Unifying the customer experience

Customers today can interact with retailers at any time using many different channels and devices before ever making a purchase. This means it’s more important than ever for retailers to provide a consistent and seamless customer experience. Smart retailers aren’t just replicating the same experience across different channels, they’re finding innovative ways of making their different channels work seamlessly together.

Having recently merged teams responsible for both stores and digital platforms, Neiman Marcus is one leading retailer taking huge strides towards a seamless customer experience. By using the latest in digital technology, they’ve successfully implemented many new and innovative initiatives including: MyNMSnap.Find.Shop and Memory Mirrors.

By emulating in-store experiences online, using consistent imagery and tailored content, ensuring seamless transitions across touchpoints/channels and retaining activity across devices/sessions, retailers can entirely alter their customers experience, mitigate drop-off rates and increase ROI and competitive advantage.

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2. Personalizing customer journeys and product content

Customers increasingly expect their interactions with a luxury brand to be tailored to perfectly fit their individual needs. Retailers should be harnessing customer signals and using analytics to gain insight into why, where, when and how their customers access content. Personalization is about adapting an experience that truly values your customer’s time; it can be done with smart use of even the smallest piece of data including gender, location, device, history, preferences and behaviours.

The Sephora Beauty Insider loyalty program provides personalized product recommendations tailored to a customer’s specific requirements. By submitting a beauty profile, product suggestions are calculated for the customer based on their beauty concerns and personal features like skin type, skin tone and hair/eye colour.

By crafting an experience that adapts to a customer’s context and preferences in a relevant and timely way, you can create a powerful and unique retail experience.

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3. Integrating channels and content behind the scenes

Isolated sales channels and a fragmented service approach can lead to a disjointed and poor customer experience. In order to unify the customer experience, businesses need to integrate all areas of their marketing strategy and seek a single view of their customer. To deliver a unified and consistent message that plays to the strengths of the channel and touchpoint, incorporate digital into the bricks-and-mortar and weave relevant and easily adaptable content across all platforms to encourage greater interaction and deeper exploration.

Macy’s, having recently partnered with Shopkick, have introduced iBeacons in almost 800 of their stores across America. These devices use exact in-store locations to push instant product recommendations and enticing offers straight to customer smartphones promoting impulse purchase decisions.

Surfacing digital content and creating connections across channels, through the application of bridging technologies, creates an opportunity for unique and engaging retail experiences that drive sales and promote loyalty.

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4. Creating moments of surprise & delight

Digital technology has enhanced the ways in which we utilize surprise and delight techniques, allowing brands to better anticipate customer needs, in-turn making customers feel incredibly valued. The size or cost of the gesture is irrelevant, by doing something small and unexpected you can connect with your customer on a personal level and show you truly value their business. Gratitude is a strong and profitable emotion and can be created by simply bringing a smile to your customers face.

Lord & Taylor recently ran a week-long surprise and delight Twitter campaign, encouraging customers to tweet items they carried in store followed by #obsessed. Tweets started popping up from some very happy customers who had received items they had been #obsessed with, all compliments of Lord & Taylor.

Surprise and delight techniques are quintessential in terms of delivering a best-in-class customer experience, creating awareness and building strong brand loyalty. 

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5. Engaging with high touch product experiences

One of the biggest barriers to online shopping, specifically within luxury retail, is a lack of touch-and-feel elements and easy access to instant information. By fostering traditional aspects of the in-store experience across your e-commerce, platform you can successfully engage your customer and bridge the gap between in-store and online.

A parallax website created for the JUMO Classique lamp series has expertly crafted a unique touch and feel experience. Exploration of their product is simple, by using outstanding imagery and product information the customer can investigate and interact with every angle of the product.

Emulate ‘touch and feel’ experiences and bring customers closer to your products by using smart design, photography, video and detailed product information, while ensuring similar in-store assistance is easily accessible online. 

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By realizing the extensive opportunities digital provides, you can successfully redefine the traditional definition of ‘luxury’ through your online platforms. Get this right and you will increase revenue, build brand loyalty and create a key differentiating factor between you and your competitors.

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