E-commerce is ubiquitous in modern life but selling luxury items requires unique tactics
These days, purchasing luxury goods from the comfort of your home is easier than ever – thanks to the power of e-commerce. But while some high-end brands quickly got on board with selling their exclusive collections online, many others are still reluctant about the idea. From luxury watches to couture fashion, what are the challenges of selling luxury products through e-commerce – and do they have valid solutions?
- The Challenge: Losing the Exclusivity Factor
Personal connection is a major aspect when in the business of selling high-end products, be it diamond rings, pearl jewelry, luxurious watches or the latest designer fashions. While live sales in high-end boutiques involve developing a connection with the client, as well as offering them an all-around luxurious treatment that often culminates with expensive champagne, the web simply does not facilitate the same posh experiences. Ditching the customized shopping experience for a less interactive, less personal, and more mechanical approach hadn’t appealed to many high-end brands until Chanel changed the entire game in 2018.
When the high-end fashion giant decided to open an e-commerce shop, many were surprised: how would they offer their loyal clientele the same exclusive treatment that the in-store shopping experience can provide? The move seemed particularly baffling in the context of the brand’s fashion director Bruno Pavlovsky’s words: “Fashion is about clothing, and clothing you need to see, to feel, to understand.”
While many high-end brands are still very much reluctant to embrace the e-commerce route, Chanel definitely managed to shake things up and prove that deluxe products can find their place online. But there are a few secrets to the trade: first, the brand can and should still maintain their exclusivity status by offering only a small portion of their products online. In general, high-end brands choose to sell their less expensive products through e-commerce, while keeping the more expensive ones in the stores – and a good example that proves that this solution can definitely work is Hermès.
- The Challenge: The Missing Shop Assistant
Whether shopping for jewelry, watches, special occasion presents or high-end wedding anniversary gifts, every client that’s on the lookout for exquisite luxury products wants to maximize their investment – and that’s where the shop assistant comes in. From offering the clients advice, presenting the brand’s latest styles, collections, and must-have staples, in-store shop assistants are a solid asset when on an exclusive shopping spree – an asset that is clearly missing in an online environment.
Focusing on improving the clients’ shopping experience is the key to successfully replacing the shop assistant – and that starts with a more personalized website. From conducting surveys for a better understanding of what the customers are looking for to customizing the online shop to match the clientele’s needs, there are many ways in which a luxury ecommerce site can be upgraded from basic to posh boutique-like. Everything from ultra-high quality images and the option to closely zoom in on the details to video clips showcasing the products in great lighting and detail must be in place in order to offer the loyal customers a unique shopping experience. But more than that, new intelligence companies are currently working on perfecting site customization though attribution modelling and robust mobile analytics, thus creating highly personalized online spaces that can successfully function as a great alternative to the classic shop assistant.
- The Challenge: Maintaining Client’s Loyalty
In the absence of a shop assistant, connection with the brand and exclusivity factor, maintaining the client’s interest presents itself as a much more difficult task. Creating a bond with the customers through an online platform is infinitely harder – and the absence of such a vital bond will most likely not stimulate the customer to return for a second purchase.
When selling high-end products online, one of the main aspects to focus on is exquisite customer service. Basically, it’s all about compensating – compensating for the absence of the shop assistant with a flawlessly customized e-commerce website and, in the same manner, compensating for the missing in-person bond with a faultless customer care policy. From making sure that the shipping goes as smoothly as possible to gaining credibility through genuine reviews and from adding live chats to the website to credibility badges, gaining the customer’s trust is imperative when selling high-end products through e-commerce.