Certain brands are deemed luxurious for a reason. It could be their dramatic designs, the top of the line materials with which they are created, or the company’s compelling history… or maybe it's the pricing. Whatever the case, luxury brands have made their mark in the brick and mortar market and are increasingly looking to do the same in the digital realm. According to the latest McKinsey report, "Over the past five years, online sales of luxury goods in the global market have grown four times faster than offline sales- an annual growth rate of 27 percent." Although an impressive feat, many luxury brands are now asking themselves how they can keep people coming through the door, while simultaneously driving online traffic.
"The pervasive belief was that luxury shoppers, with their discriminating taste and preference for high-priced goods, wouldn’t buy expensive things online," says a 2014 McKinsey report. But with the increasing amount of consumers at all price points finding online shopping to be easier, how can luxury brands utilize both brick and click stores?
Here's how we think they can do it:
- Take Advantage of Being 'Offline' – While dramatically overstated in customer relations, the phrase 'people value unique experiences' rings especially true when it comes to luxury fashion stores. Brands should use concrete retail stores as an additional marketing tool and capitalize on the ability to create physical, interactive experiences. Many consumers want to touch, feel, use and try on luxury products before reaching the final purchasing stage. These touch points (literally) are often what drive consumers to stores in the first place. Recognize these desires and take advantage.
- Construct a Compelling Digital Experience – These days, it's almost too easy to create a responsive website. For luxury brands to truly stand out digitally, their website not only needs to fulfill expectations, it needs to surpass them. Executing the basic functions while immersing the consumer in a compelling digital experience is key to succeeding online.
- Engage with Consumers on a Social Level – No, we're not talking about a dinner date. Interacting with consumers through social media can propel brand awareness and draw new consumers to the luxury lifestyle. “Each brand needs to strike a balance between exclusivity and inclusiveness,” said Brandwatch analyst James Lovejoy for the New York Times. Once luxury brands find a way to relate to their consumers through social, they'll notice a upward shift in awareness, response, and loyalty. These positive outcomes result in none other than increased traffic in stores and online.
- Remain Seamless – This tip should come as no surprise to successful e-commerce companies. Seamless retailing requires integrated operations. From social, to digital, in store, and beyond, luxury brands must remain universal in all aspects of the business. "Consumers have heightened shopping expectations," says Forbes. "71 percent expect to view in-store inventory online, and 50 percent expect the ability to buy online and pick up in store." Synching operations to one unique harmony will leave luxury brands at the top of brick and mortar and online markets.
As strictly online retailers emerge and middle grade brands succumb to the pressure of the digital age, it's imperative for luxury brands to stay on top of their consumers needs and wants both online and in store. With endless possibilities offline, a unique digital experience online, and an open pathway for communication between the brand and consumer at all times, brands cant afford anything but a fully seamless experience for their customers.