As we find ourselves firmly in the second half of 2019, it is safe to say it’s been a year that’s seen the continued growth of digital and accelerated change in customer expectations.
Whilst we’ve seen some brands embrace these changes, others have struggled and now find themselves well behind the curve in terms of offering a modern-day digital customer experience. And of those, some such brands are those we associate with the highest and finest quality products in their various industries, often coming with a high-ticket price that only a few of us could ever dream of owning.
For that reason, these luxury brands have traditionally offered a very personal service in-store that makes their customers feel special, valued, and that the money they're parting with is not only buying them a fantastic product, but also a fantastic customer experience. Many luxury brands have this down to a T.
However, a recent study found that whilst the vast majority (82%) of luxury sales are influenced by online experiences, only 10% of luxury sales are through online channels.
This makes me ask two questions:
- If customers are researching luxury products online, why are they not continuing to purchase them – from the comfort of their own home – via websites or apps?
- With so many customers researching online, should luxury brands be giving the same attention to the online experience as in-store, and re-thinking how they invest in these areas?
On the first question, as mentioned above, part of the benefit of buying a luxury item – such as a nice watch, a high-end car or a fancy dress – is the in-store experience. It’s absolutely possible that customers research online before visiting a store so they can have this personal interaction.
However, after some time spent looking at what some brands were offering online versus in-store, it appears that the gap between the varying customer experience is vast. In some cases it was hard to believe I was looking at the same brand whose store I had visited the day before. This is concerning and may help answer why online research is so high, but online revenue is so low.
Customers expect luxury through every channel when interacting with a brand, and today, that first interaction is often online.
This leads me onto the second question, which in my opinion, is an absolute yes. Evidence suggests that more and more customers are researching luxury products online, and in many cases have the desire to make their purchase there as well. Customers expect luxury through every channel when interacting with a brand, and today, that first interaction is often online.
Digital customer experience now encompasses the whole customer journey and helps define a brand’s reputation and persona. No longer can highly historic, successful and high-quality luxury brands rely on their traditional in-store experiences to ensure they stay market leaders in their field of expertise.
Author: Chris Sheldon