Are the basics of retail, the future of e-commerce?

When LVMH announced the launch of its new e-commerce platform, 24 Sèvres, my first reaction was a mix of excitement, admiration and relief.

Excitement because one of the leading groups innovating in luxury had finally made a move towards multibrand e-commerce, favoring user experience over brand control. Admiration goes without saying – I mean, have you seen the website?- as LVMH managed to launch a website that lives up to the graphic and animation standards of luxury stores. Finally relief, as we are now witnessing major groups trying new efforts to offer the best of both physical and digital at any step of the customer journey.

LVMH managed to take the best of physical luxury stores, in terms of design and service, as well as the best from other e-commerce platforms, and created its own vision of e-commerce. A vision that is both customer-centric and modern.

While showing a new way for luxury e-commerce, 24 Sèvres leverages and pushes further some basics of luxury retail. Let’s dive into three luxury retail rules that make 24 Sèvres such a good example, to me, of innovative luxury e-commerce.

 

1. Tailored recommendations

Shoppers can contact a personal shopper for a digital and truely personalized fashion consultation. Depending on their preferences, customers choose their favorite medium to get in touch with these special advisors: video chat (on the app), Messenger bot (called Style Bot), live chat, phone or email. One notable advantage from the Style Bot is that of being available 24/7, fitting in online customers’ shopping habits.

Personal shoppers are dedicated to this job, and have a styling expertise. In this way, LVMH is following up on Macy’s efforts to make sales assistants available online to e-commerce shoppers, thereby bridging the gap between being in-store & advised, and online & alone.

 

2. Luxurious merchandising

24 Sèvres’ UI sets up standards for future luxury and/or fashion e-commerce platforms, with high quality visuals, animations and frequent updates of content. Such content replicates efforts made on store windows to catch customers’ attention in the street. One theme is displayed in several visuals/animations, to show the highlight of the week on the platform. The quality of execution aligns with Le Bon Marché’s high-end image, and therefore embodies this emblematic Parisian department store, online. Even product visuals have been careful shot in an editorial style, to mimic luxury settings in fashion magazines and in store.

 

3. Curated offer

Finally, and this is a major differentiating point compared to other luxury e-commerce platforms such as Net-à-Porter or LuisaViaRoma, 24 Sèvres offers a highly curated selection. Product offering is rather limited compared to competitors, because 24 Sèvres embodies Parisian luxury and as such, it only offers luxury items that match a certain style. This indicates the website is destined to an exclusive and selective audience, looking for more than traditional luxury e-commerce.

 

With 24 Sèvres, LVMH took the best retail and e-commerce practices and mixed them to offer a truely luxurious online shopping experience to a very demanding audience. While basic retail principles set this website apart from competitors, it will be interesting to witness their influence on future platforms!

Improving in-store experience with digital assistants

Nearly 80% of shoppers interact with brands or products online before visiting a physical store. What they find through digital – may it be information, inspiration, or reviews – helps them prepare their visit and partly make up their mind. 45% of these shoppers actually find that using digital makes it easier to shop in-store. On top of this, using digital when being in the store leads to a 20% higher conversion rate! (Deloitte)

The rise of digital assistants … in stores

Acknowledging these facts, it’s no surprise to see retailers experiment with mobile digital assistants, meant to assist shoppers who prefer to lead their own shopping journey, while other shoppers are invited to seek the advice of a salesperson.

One of such retailers is Macy’s, the American retailer, which has made omnichannel innovation one of its objectives. Indeed, the chain has worked with IBM Watson to offer an AI-powered digital assistant to its clients. Tested in 10 stores, this in-store digital service is called “On call”. What it does is provide guidance to shoppers, based on: real-time, geolocalization, and machine learning.

At its launch, On call mostly answered requests regarding the location of products in the store. It recognizes product types and brand sot provide the specific location of what shoppers are looking for.

Online to offline to online…

While this is just the beginning of what AI can bring to stores, it is a service crafted for shoppers who prefer not to ask sales persons for information, and enjoy being on their own while shopping. It is interesting to see how a physicial asset of stores (concierge or sales persons) are inspiring digital services to please all customers in stores.

Such inspiration is also feeding new online services for e-commerce shoppers, such as the personal shopper video chat, call or bot service of 24 Sèvres, LVMH’s brand new luxury e-commerce. More on this later!

From digital transformation to retail revolution

 

Omnichannel has been on the lips of marketers for years already, and yet, few brands have started to build a truly omnichannel customer experience. What is so difficult about omnichannel? Obviously, identifying which customer is taking what action on which channel is a big barrier. Then, linking all these data about your customer and making something of this information. Technology comes in handy to make sure you capture data at relevant times and leverage intel about consumer behaviour in the right way to make sure you remain relevant to your customer.

It is crucial for digital, but it’s also gaining importance in marketing, more generally speaking. Beyond digital per se, brands are undergoing a retail revolution. At stake: delivering a different, exceptional and memorable brand experience to each customer, in order to become a lovebrand and recruit loyal customers.

In the upcoming posts, I’ll share more insights about this transformation of luxury retail, as I believe it is the logical continuation to brands digitization, only it’s happening in a physical space.

Back on track

Last post: April 2015. Well, so much for weekly posts! Anyway, here I am, almost a year later, with plenty of things to talk about and many campaigns to comment on.

So what happened in the last 12 months? A lot. I worked for 6 months in native advertising for a media company in Paris where I had a lot of fun imagining fun, engaging and innovative campaigns for mostly beauty and travel brands. Then I moved to Seoul, South Korea, to do marketing in a digital agency offering a complete range of marketing services to international brands willing to reach Asian consumers. I am two months into this job and I am already discovering a lot of usages that are not so common for both users and brands in France, or in Western countries if I dare say so. I will share some of them later, so stay tuned!

These jobs have kept me busy, but I have missed my weekly rendez-vous on this blog and I want to make time to think about all those campaigns I see everyday, whether in Korea or elsewhere. Ready for some weekly thoughts on digital marketing in the luxury sector?