Luxury is a market that sets itself apart. A market where in which everything is re-enchanted. This doesn’t only apply to the exceptional products it sells, it must also apply to its first-rate services. Consumers expect a tailored customer experience. Every luxury brand creates a specific world on which they rely to take their customers on a memorable journey. If they have excelled at perfecting customer experience in their physical shops, what about the digital ones? How can they faithfully adapt such a journey on a long-distance digital interface?
Going digital, a risk for customer relationship in luxury ?
Putting people first: the core of the luxury experience
Luxury is first and foremost an experience. From looking for the product to purchasing it, everything is carefully thought out so customers feel pampered and swept off their feet, far away from their daily life.
If customer experience is an essential element in luxury, emotions are at the heart of it all. During every interaction, the brand reveals its background, its history and the values they embody. When customers enter high-street luxury shops, they know they’re about to embark on an emotional journey specific to every luxury brand. Every staff member, from the shop assistant to the security guard, represents and embodies the brand. They act as ambassadors and will escort customers throughout this extraordinary journey. They are dream weavers, it is this specific market’s greatest asset.
Putting people first is the core of the whole experience, it is about paying constant attention to each customer. Luxury brands have perfectly understood that every individual has distinctive expectations. Therefore, luxury pays extra close attention to adapting their behavior to each and every customer.
However, if interactions are easily adjusted in physical shops, it is much less the case through digital means, and especially through the internet. Seeing the ever-more important place its gaining, luxury brands cannot turn a blind eye any longer. Although they have long been suspicious, they have had to shift gears considering affluent consumers have widely embraced it.
But how can the luxury experience be transcribed online? How can emotions and consideration remain central?
Digital as a new touchpoint
At first sight, digital might seem to be a hindrance, but in fact, it’s a blessing in disguise for luxury brands. It offers a new way of interacting with affluent customers, a way to keep in touch at all times. Thanks to technical innovations, luxury brands can turn into real media, and convey emotions. For example, Cartier played the part by giving life to the panther that embodies the brand in a long and emotional video.
Not being online doesn’t stop consumers of luxury goods from investing this medium, 80 % of them are already online shoppers.* As we’ve seen, the emergence of Web 2.0 has brought along fundamental changes in consumer behaviors. They’ve become “consum’actors”, social media have become the best place to express their opinions on luxury brands.
*Study by Consultancy Bain&Co for Farfetch
Therefore, customer relationship online remains crucial to be able to communicate with satisfied or unsatisfied affluent customers. In one case or the other, brands must lead them to become their very own ambassador and build loyalty.
The new web-born digital gift card is a medium that can be used by luxury brands to strengthen customer relationships on key parts of the after-sales service and lengthen their experience. A digital gift card can be given to unsatisfied customers, with a pre-set amount matching their complaint, or it can simply be used to reward satisfied customers. Not only will it be seen as a gift from the luxury brand, it will also be an invitation to plunge back into the brand’s luxurious world. It creates an opportunity to come back, establish a relationship and build loyalty.
Digital change: a dream opportunity for high-street luxury boutiques
Although digital can be seen as a new touchpoint, it needs to match the brand’s ecosystem with consistency to offer an exceptional and seamless experience. Affluent consumers expect an omnichannel solution. 78 % of affluent customers (and 60 % among all French people) go online every single day and use an average of 4.9 devices (2.9 for others).* They enjoy being able to look for a product, buy and contact a luxury brand on any device, at any time.
* Study by Wavestone via Digitalcorner, 2017
Luxury brands revamp the experience consequently, so that it can be adapted online and offline. Whether in-store or on the internet, the brands’ story, values and vision must always be flawlessly conveyed. The biggest challenge is to effectively accompany the customer throughout their journey, wherever they are.
Even though online shopping is gaining ground, high-street shops must not be left aside as they remain at the heart of the luxury customer experience. For that reason, most luxury brands implement a strategy that leads their customers to physically come and buy from their boutique.
Brands can, in this case, contemplate using the digital gift card as a way to build a bridge between the online and offline worlds. The customers who showed interest in the brand on the internet could be invited to visit the shop thanks to a fully personalized e-gift card. It’s a small welcoming gift that will work as an incentive to continue their experience in reality.
A completely tailor-made high fashion customer experience
In fact, whether in store or online, customer experience can be fully personalized thanks to new technologies. Luxury brands have been able to seize this opportunity and offer an end-to-end tailor-made experience strengthening customer relationship. This new environment has proven beneficial because brands can now address each customer individually and pamper them even more to deliver an unforgettable experience.
In concrete terms, wherever customers are, they will immediately be recognized and the offer will be adapted to their taste, based on their previous experience and expectations.
Lancôme, for example, assesses with a quick questionnaire its customers’ skin type, among other things, to make sure they are offered products that match their exact needs.
In physical shops, luxury brands use “clienteling” to create a personalized experience similar to the online one. Shop assistants have access to the customers’ information, often from a tablet, and can ensure a unique relationship and give them their full attention.
Other digital solutions car supplement this tailored in-store experience. Nowadays, many retailers are heading towards phygital, and luxury brands are no exception. Shops are revisited to integrate digital tools, opening to a virtual world of infinite possibilities for even more personalization. Burberry, for instance, set up a digital device in its London shop so clients can directly personalize their scarf.
For luxury brands, going digital is more of an opportunity than it is a drawback. It enables them to multiply their touchpoints with affluent customers. It brings more people in their stores and collects additional data for an even more personalized customer experience on all channels. Along with the digital come new devices and tools, such as the e-gift card, which strengthens customer relationships while improving the brand’s image and valorizing its customers.
Suggestions for further reading
Digital Gift Cards : an asset in crisis management
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