Successful luxury brand companies have come to understand that the days of the high-street store being the only retail outlet are over. Online shopping has now found a firm footing in this market, but the luxury brand customer expects the same level of attention and convenience either way. This means excellent digital customer service should be a high priority for any luxury brand wanting to sustain its growth.
Customers' high expectations
Research has shown that customers of luxury brands are digitally mature and have high expectations for service excellence. Luxury brands attract a well-heeled clientele with a higher proportion of disposable income than your more mainstream customer, and with that comes an expectation of quality - not only from the product but the entire experience of shopping, purchasing, and any follow-up required. At the same time, being digitally mature means that these customers expect online convenience and assistance "at the touch of a button". It also busts the myth that luxury consumers are only after the in-store experience. While this tactile experience appeals to many consumers, so does the luxury of online shopping, and in fact, according to Forrester, the two experiences should be seen as working in tandem. In sum, luxury customers always expect the best - and that includes the digital experience.
Getting it right
Innovation: Augmented Reality
Some luxury brands have replicated the in-store experience by using AR to assist customers with a digital 'trying on' session. An example of a brand that has done this successfully is Gucci which has closed the gap between real and virtual shopping. Augmented lenses allow the shopper to 'see' how they would look in a certain item. Another example is luxury watch company Bremont which has enabled shoppers through AR to view their products in 3D in a real-life setting
The flexibility of online transactions
When Forrester carried out a review of ten luxury brands, they found many offered a deferred payment system to increase the accessibility of their products to a broader clientele without having to drop prices or dilute the 'luxury' association of the brand. Whether deferring payment or completing a purchase up-front, luxury brand customers prioritize hi-tech secure payment methods so as not to compromise the sums of money being 'handed over'.
Emphasis on core values
Increasingly, with public awareness of issues such as the climate crisis and unjust labor practices becoming more mainstream, luxury-seeking customers are on the lookout for brands that align with their own core values. Smart brands meet their customers' needs by being as transparent as possible, highlighting the values that underpin their products all the way through from sourcing materials to manufacturing products to selling goods. These are often outlined in a special section on their web page.
Getting it wrong
According to the research by Forrester, e-control is lacking with some brands struggling with the problem of counterfeit goods and unauthorized resales. The researchers found that several brands require better insight into how this is diluting their luxury brand. Another issue cited is that of ease of purchase. The same research found that a positive CX was sorely lacking as some brands lacked consistency in displaying goods and prices, and not making it easy for a potential client to complete a purchase.
The numbers tell the story
- Despite the impact of the pandemic on personal wealth, revenue of US$312.60bn was generated in the luxury goods market in 2022. The market is set to grow annually between 2022 and 2027 by 5.4%, and the biggest slice of that market is in luxury fashion (Statista)
- While the luxury market might be thriving, not all segments are as prominent as others. Luxury cars, luxury personal goods, and luxury hospitality account for 80% of the total luxury market (Bain & Company)
- The multiple luxury goods sector contributed more than one-third of the total Top 100 luxury goods sales (Deloitte)
- While luxury goods are purchased across the globe and have come to represent high status in many regions, the United States is the true home of luxury brand retail: In global comparison, most revenue is generated in the US (US$69,520.00m in 2022) (Statista)
- Not that long ago, augmented reality (AR) seemed like a futuristic component of shopping, but increasingly, it is bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping. According to a Google survey, 66% of people are interested in using AR for assistance when shopping.
- Almost 80% of luxury sales are “digitally influenced” (meaning that consumers hit one or more digital touch points during their shopping experience (McKinsey)
- Customer service is of paramount importance, with 96% of respondents say it is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand (Microsoft)
- Millennials and Gen Z buyers will account for 70% of the luxury market in 2025 (Bain & Company)
- In 2020, 58% of customers stated that they had contacted customer service in the previous month (Statista)
Excellent digital customer service is of paramount importance as luxury brands turn to online retail. To cater to these discerning customers with the same seamless experience they'd find in a high-end store, companies must prioritize delivering every conceivable convenience. Some brands opt for the expense of an in-house team for this purpose, many are enlisting a third party to undertake a service that blends AI with the human touch, provides multi-lingual support around the clock, and ensures top-notch security. To find out more about outsourcing this service, visit helpware.com