Can luxury brands play catch-up in an aggressive multichannel world?

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Luxury brands have been reluctant to adopt digital commerce

For years, prestige goods companies have looked down on online sales channels, which they have perceived as inappropriate for an industry which is all about high-quality and exclusivity.

“We think for luxury it’s not right. It’s good in countries that don’t have the shop nearby.”

– Miuccia Prada, chairperson and Creative Director of Prada Group, 2013.

Many preferred keeping luxury in the rarefied world of high-end boutiques and department store glossy storefronts. They have mostly been using the online channel to showcase the brand, through institutional websites with limited product content and information.

Whilst many retailers have hesitated to adopt e-commerce for fear of store sales cannibalization, the reluctance of premium brands seems to have been mainly driven by a somewhat conservative view of the luxury shopping experience. This view has been largely supported by the stereotype of e-commerce as a discount channel on which it is difficult to perceive and experience the product quality.

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How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – Part I

As customers are interacting with more and more channels and touchpoints, it becomes essential for brands to adapt to their context and deliver meaningful interactions in order to satisfy their growing expectations.

Following the relaunch of its ecommerce site at the end of 2013, Halfords online sales have risen 13.7% from the same time last year.

Whenever adding a new channel, improving an existing touchpoint or redesigning the entire omnichannel setup of a brand, User Experience expertise actively participates to increasing conversion rates, repeat purchase and ultimately market share.

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Multichannel Strategies for Malls

By adopting multichannel strategies, malls can offer rewarding shopping experiences to the connected consumers. Digital technologies and customer oriented marketing provide mall operators with new means to increase footfall and become more relevant to their retailers.

Loyalty programs: creating returning mall traffic

A loyalty approach enables a mall to develop a valuable customer database and share marketing operation efforts among its brands. Mall operators such as Unibail worldwide and So Ouest or Qwartz in Paris created simple but very effective loyalty programs. Their objective is to bring more loyal traffic to their retail clients and mutualize digital efforts on the web and mobile.

In Europe, these loyalty programs mostly base their marketing promise on services and benefits such as free parking, private sales as well as coupons and discounts.

The objective is to create distinctive services and offers that make customers feel valued and incentivized to frequently engage with the mall and its brands. Even premium malls, such as Le Bon Marché, are introducing loyalty programs to enable personalized communication with their customers.

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Loyalty programs: recognizing customers before they even purchase

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Loyalty programs are structured social marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal visiting and buying behaviour. This targeted and incentivized behaviour should be beneficial to both customers and companies.

In terms of loyalty, understanding pre-purchase moments is more important than the purchase itself: customers want to be recognized and perceive their interactions with a brand are valued more than just for the purchase they make.

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Designing a mobile touchpoint: the single-purpose app

When planning a new app, the current trend is to keep it simple and focus on its effectiveness to meet business objectives

Multi-purpose apps are progressively being abandoned as connected-consumers increasingly favour micro-interactions with specialised apps. One of the most eloquent illustration of this trend is Facebook’s “unbundling strategy”. The social media giant is moving away from multi-purpose apps (which they call “the portal syndrome”) and is now acquiring or developing a network of specialised apps, with very specific sets of functionalities: Paper, Instagram, Whatsapp to name a few.

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