While online retailers look to push the boundaries of the digital world as far as they can go in order to provide a “real-world experience”, in-store retail experiences are changing for the better as luxury brands finally start to get to grips with what digital technology can do for them and their customers.
Luxury brands were slow to come to terms with digital, but are now speeding ahead with it.
While each luxury brand has its own characteristics and personality, there are certain factors that unite define them as being true luxury (rather than just expensive).
Human engagement and interaction is still a key reference of luxury. Whereas many believe that digital is opposite to that personal touch, Artificial Intelligence technology can help brands better analyse data, understand their consumers and therefore, offer a more accurate and personalised service to their end customer. As discussed at Trend, that unique human touch may be hard to replicate, but the more we work on technology the better will become at identifying not only customer taste and preferences but also emotions and state of mind.
Digital technology can lay the foundations for an outstanding real-world experience
Luxury means being able to identify the consumer’s desires and fulfil them to the highest standards.
In the analogue age, this was more art than science and those involved with luxury brands had to essentially make educated guesses on what the customer wanted. In the digital age, however, there is much more hard data available to decision makers and modern “digital first” e-tailers have become experts at using it.
Now, established “real-world” luxury brands are even ahead of high-street retailers.. Watchmaker Audemars Piguet is using its website to allow customers to pursue its range of watches and make an initial selection before booking an in-store appointment with a watch expert who will guide them through the last stage of their decision-making process.
This approach is not only convenient for both retailer and customer but gives the former more data and an opportunity to engage the customer at the very start of the purchasing funnel
Brands are recognising the importance of streamlining their online and offline channels
At a recent event by Agora London, Sarah Stagg of The Rug Company discussed the importance of brands aligning their online and offline services. Sarah highlighted how House of Fraser realised so many retailers were investing a great deal of time perfecting the user experience with online click-and-collect platforms and when customers were going in store to collect their purchase, the same level of service wasn’t being received. Customers were having trouble finding the collection points and were often left waiting for long periods of time. House of Fraser worked to ensure the service was efficient and stress-free throughout the journey, from online purchase to the in-store collection. By installing state of the art warehouse management systems and specific collection points, the brand saw collection tie reduce from 3 minutes to 30 seconds.
This clear and defined multichannel strategy is likely to significantly increase the customer satisfaction and generate repeat custom.
Social media connections are good, but real-world relationships are better
For all that social media can help to shape the perception of a brand and begin the process of engagement, there is nothing like real-world interaction to strengthen the bond between the individual and the brand.
The added value in this industry is to have face-to-face time with your potential customers, whether they want to purchase a watch, a yacht or a bag, your personal advice will have a much bigger impact than any social channel and personal interactions, luckily, are still very relevant.
If you are looking to improve your online luxury experience, please get in touch.
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