Luxury Retailer Ecommerce Trends to Look for in 2016 and Beyond
When it comes to ecommerce, luxury retailers are frequently at a loss in terms of adapting to a changing landscape. After all, how does a venerable institution which has for decades relied on traditional methods of advertising and marketing—such as high gloss print media and celebrity endorsements, all of which foster a formerly unassailable myth of exclusivity—compete in a medium that is embodied by an all-inclusive, user driven experience without losing a carefully crafted identity?
Thankfully, the results are not always so drastic. In fact, they can be as complimentary as they are innovative. Here are a few examples of trends that allow luxury brands to compete without sacrificing their reputation.
One key strategy for luxury retailers to take note of has been the ever-increasing need for customised, user-driven content. No matter what their personal income and shopping habits may be, all consumers share the same innate need to feel that their retail experience is unique and reflective of their own personal style. Curated web services, such as Pinterest or Instagram, are an ideal way for formerly reticent retailers to reach out to a much broader demographic than traditional media, both enhancing the grassroots appeal of a brand identity as well as allowing an entirely new swath of untapped potential shoppers to feel as if they are participating in a brand experience that was formerly limited to an exclusive elite.
2.) Body Scanning
One of the largest complaints towards traditional apparel retailers has been the failure to address realistic body images. Few consumers, even the most affluent, live up to the expectations of a Milan runway. With the accessibility and standardization of high resolution webcams, one novel solution to address these concerns is body scanning.
The basic concept behind body scanning is that users would upload a picture to a secure site, allowing them to “try on” a retailer’s offerings virtually, even offering the options to include enhancements such as appearance before or after weight loss. It’s a unique concept; so why haven’t retailers utilized it more frequently?
One reason is that the effects of the above-mentioned revolution of personalized content has only been felt relatively recently in the past few years. But as its impact continues to grow, new developments in how to better take advantage of its ethos will result. Which means that formerly future-looking browsing options such as body scanning won’t be so future-looking after all.
3.) Cross Border ECommerce
The emergence of untapped global markets has allowed for previously unexplored areas of brand penetration; as well as some of the stickiest traps of tax laws and shipping regulations imaginable. Yet with online communications becoming standard in even the most remote locations, the great leveller of ecommerce allows even the most staid of retail institutions to cultivate an international sales strategy and develop an entirely new customer base.
Distributors such as Net-A-Porter allow for centralized distribution of luxury goods that were in the past considered high risk for security and shipping concerns. With the emergence of global economies and developing consumer spending capabilities, luxury retailers can take advantage of these platforms to allow for a much more global presence.
Historically, one of the key selling points of luxury retailers has been personalized customer service. Price matters little in comparison to overall brand experience, and the idea of using a “one-size-fits-all” medium like the internet hardly makes the Sunday afternoon visit to Tiffany’s pale in comparison.
While it’s true that the online experience may not offer all of the opulent splendor of a luxury boutique’s brick and mortar site, personalized customer sales services have been integrated into luxury sites that can help develop an entirely new base of brand loyalists. Using customer loyalty promotions to inform shoppers of exclusive sales, virtual POS points in-store and online attitudinal profiling, the gap between the online and the physical experience can be narrowed; and all without the sound of smooth jazz playing in the background.
5.) Design Usability
There has historically been one glaringly obvious distinction in luxury retail websites; impressive design matched by inaccessible usability.Whereas brand recognition may have hinged on the stylistic innovation of its web presence in the past, in a user driven experience, customers are as demanding of content in addition to style, and this means both ease of navigation as well as accessibility of purchasing options. This is particularly true as mobilecentric platforms are predicted to dominate ecommerce over the next few years.
Utilizing one-click purchase options, personalization, product recommendations and transactional emails in addition to a stylish and unique design approach helps to ensure a standardized experience equaling physical presence. Ensuring both mobile and web-optimization isn’t just a question of additional investments any longer; it’s as vital to sales as marketing as a whole.
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