How Can Brands Replicate Luxury In-Store Shopping Experiences Online?
Back in the mid-2010s, Bain & Company’s Luxury Goods Market Study reported that up to 40% of luxury brands had no online retail presence. They were, to say the least, late to the party.
This isn’t surprising, with the benefit of hindsight. Launching an ecommerce store meant sacrificing some key pillars that made luxury shopping what it is.
Moreover, hallmarks of the luxury shopping experience, such as high levels of customer intimacy and super-smooth shopper journeys, used to be a creative challenge to replicate online.
But luxury brands that can successfully marry innovative technology and merchandising creativity with big data and analytics can now achieve customer intimacy and authentic personalisation at an unprecedented scale.
And they can now do so without undoing rich brand legacies that have been carefully cultivated over generations.
With Bain & Company’s Luxury Spring Update 2022 predicting steady market growth for the foreseeable future, it’s clear that luxury brands can no longer need to compromise when recreating the brick-and-mortar experience online.
Merchandising and Brand Representation—Curation Vs CRO
Step through the doors of the brick-and-mortar store of any luxury brand, and you’re likely to spot carefully curated displays that are there to inspire shoppers.
But how can ecommerce sites reconcile the need for consistent brand representation with a straightforward user experience and a seamless customer journey while still meeting challenging sales KPIs?
Tommy Jeans provides some answers. Like the luxury fashion retailer’s store interiors , the store seeks to inspire shoppers with curated, highly creative inspirational shopping experiences. Landing pages are signposted to users to explore and build an affinity with the brand.
In fact, Tommy’s merchandising teams use Attraqt to curate products and achieve complete creative control over how they are displayed.
The platform’s powerful product curation and drag-and-drop functions put the creativity back into merchandising, allowing teams to display products, categories and collections in a way that inspires shoppers while still meeting KPIs.
Tommy’s website is elegant proof that high-end curation and CRO can live and work together online in a healthy self-supporting relationship.
User Experience—Can Algorithms Understand Luxury?
It’s not just aesthetics at Tommy stores where shoppers will notice a stark contrast to more basic high-street clothing retailers—attentive, personalised customer service from knowledgeable store assistants is also part of the experience.
Tommy stores are also free of the long queues and hustle and bustle you might find in a big department store, so the customer journey feels easy, unhurried and intimate.
Tommy’s website achieves the same hassle-free experience with AI-powered search. Natural language processing (NLP) serves up relevant visual suggestions before a search term is even completed.
This is just the first step on a streamlined customer journey at Tommy’s website. When visitors land on a product page, curation and CRO continue working together to present a visually appealing selection of complementary—and highly personalised—items and styles.
This is thanks to sophisticated algorithms interpreting customer data behind the scenes to anticipate intent, determine desires and respond accordingly.
Personalised recommendations continue at multiple touchpoints throughout the journey through to post-checkout, when Crownpeak's AI algorithms can send dynamically generated marketing emails and offers targeted at specific segments or individual shoppers.
In doing so, Tommy successfully recreates the customer intimacy found in its brick-and-mortar stores at scale— bringing a fully realised vision of the luxury experience to the mass market.
These functions reduce pressure on merchandisers, allowing them to quickly adapt their strategies to the priority KPIs of the hour—and Crownpeak's SaaS architecture keeps costs low by letting teams pick and choose the tools that best suit their goals from a granular feature set.
Customer Intimacy—The Luxury Hallmark
Harvey Nichols—another Crownpeak client in the luxury space—offers a similar experience to Tommy Jeans’ product recommendations, prompting shoppers to ‘complete the look’ with matching accessories.
In the absence of trained, knowledgeable sales assistants (another trademark of the luxury in-store experience), product pages on Harvey Nichols’ site show an additional set of recommendations based on the visitors’ browser behaviour, past purchases, demographic data and more.
The feature is made possible by Crownpeak working seamlessly in the background to gather user data and offer personalised yet unobtrusive suggestions in real time.
Personalised recommendations like these allow Harvey Nichols to nurture deep buyer-brand connections and a seamless customer journey where visitors can skip the search and explore a collection of personally curated product lines.
The more data Crownpeak collates and processes, the more accurate the product recommendations become. The effect over the long-term is a little like clienteling, where stores keep a database of client information to help sales assistants build closer relationships—except there are no sales assistants here!
Can Luxury Live Online?
It may be a stretch to say an online experience could replace the sheer opulence of somewhere like Dolce & Gabbana’s uber-luxury Rome store.
However, brands like Harvey Nichols and Tommy are proving that successfully translating luxury experiences into the digital medium is a crucial strategy for maintaining relevance in the online era.
By allowing shoppers to tap into a brand-consistent, hassle-free and personalised experience from anywhere, using any device, luxury brands can maintain long-lasting relationships with existing customers while accessing a whole new customer base.
Savvy luxury brands that seize the initiative now will have a competitive edge as consumers in the highly-competitive space.