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Wednesday 26 February 2020


Luxury retailers ‘lagging behind’ digitally

Written by Peter Walker

The luxury sector is lagging behind the rest of fashion world when it comes to adapting to a digital future, according to Brightpearl.

The omnichannel retail software company’s chief executive Derek O’Carroll explained that the luxury sector’s hesitancy in embracing e-commerce is understandable, as it is an area of retail that has relied on a sense of exclusivity and inspirational store experiences to attract wealthier customers.

“But, as retail continues to evolve, driven by developments ranging from voice technologies to social media, even luxury shoppers are starting to want different things, and luxury brands are starting to lag behind,” he stated.

Consultancy McKinsey & Co recently reported that online sales of personal luxury goods currently account for eight per cent of the total luxury market, but predicted that by 2020, this will grow to 20 per cent – with these sales being driven primary online.

However, as online sales grow, consumers are often left disappointed by the internet shopping experience, said O’Carroll, citing Klarna research which found 39 per cent of UK consumers think High Street brands provide a better online shopping experience than luxury brands.

“Unfortunately, many luxury brands continue to lag on the digital end, with e-commerce sites that lack usability, personalisation and responsiveness – often leaving consumers frustrated with a digital experience that is not aligned with the service they receive in-store,” commented O’Carroll.

Some luxury retailers are excelling in this digital environment, with O’Carroll giving Burberry as an example, due to its live streaming ‘see now, buy now’ catwalk shows and use of in-store interactive mirrors that show customers content based on the clothes they look at.

Gucci meanwhile, created a virtual-reality project for its spring 2018 campaign, via a series of scannable interactive ads. In 2017, Gucci reported that half of its sales came from Millennials, with O’Carroll pointing out that these digitally native shoppers are used to buying online, and as their first brand experience is likely to be on a website, it has to leave a good first impression.

Gareth Locke, commercial director at luxury tweed clothing manufacturer Holland Cooper, said their customers’ expectations are reliant on a premium service.

“Online we put a lot of work into creating an experience that echoes our physical service,” he explained. “There is more friction to the sale of our products because of the price point, so customers need to be informed and feel like our product and brand is right for them.”

Locke said that refined data collection allows Holland Cooper to serve customer needs in store and online, pre-empting their needs. “We use a lot of content online to create a level of transparency typically only experienced in store,” he continued, adding: “We plan and market all our channels to have the same look and feel, giving a unified omnichannel experience.”

Deloitte research recently projected 99 million Millennials - versus 77 million Baby Boomers - now make up a larger segment of the luxury market. Brightpearl analysis suggested that younger luxury shoppers expect a high level of targeting and anticipate item suggestions when shopping online.

“In the age of instant gratification, today’s luxury shopper can and will quickly lose patience with slow-moving websites and poor user experience that requires them to hunt through various landing pages to find an item,” commented O’Carroll.

“The endgame is an enhanced customer experience at all ends of the buying experience, from up-to-date communication regarding delivery changes, through acknowledgments on social media after purchase, to follow up recommendations and personalised offers.”


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