Buying online is tricky for many customers, especially when it comes to luxury brands. Whether they miss the customer experience they get in stores, or they don’t get the advice they need, there are plenty of points brands could improve to make their online customer experience equal to (or better than) the physical visit.
Let’s imagine you’re walking into your favorite luxury store. Just like you would look at the outside of the store before stepping in, you check the appearance of a website before clicking to access a deeper level of the site. This is why details matter, and websites should be coherent with the brand’s visual identity: same color palette, details, silhouettes …
Then, as you step in, you look around you, discover the structure of the store and get accustomed to the way things are presented. It’s the same online. You check the website architecture to look at different product categories, special contents (fashion shows, commercials). Some things catch your attention and a salesperson comes to you. Online, it’s very important to catch the visitor’s attention, whether it’s with a commercial, a catchy sentence, a new product, features popping… If you check the new Fendi e-shop, you’ll see that the homepage features the latest micro bags campaign, as well as excerpts from the latest fashion show, and visuals showing several product lines. The website uses the same colors as the ones in stores (yellow and grey) and calls for interaction with plenty of call-to-action buttons. The sidebar shows the site architecture in a discreet way. Moreover, Fendi displays the collection on silhouettes mixing several pieces and you just have to click on a dot on the item you like to open a pop-up page for more information. The Dior Capture Totale serum’s mini-site offers plenty of opportunities to interact with the content: you can play a video, relate dots on a game-like feature, click to learn more about the technology behind the serum. This replaces the moment you make contact with products in store, looking at the description on the packaging, asking about the scientific advances…
Fendi’s website homepage
Outside a Fendi store
Inside a Fendi store
Top quality customer service distinguishes luxury stores from others. Sales persons are expected to know their products perfectly and give great advice to customers. Whether you ask about a product composition or usages, or you ask what color would suit your skin tone best, sales persons are there to guide you. I believe this is where e-shops struggle. There aren’t so many brands offering personalized advice online. It is hard to grasp a customer online, but this is why customer accounts exist, right? Some companies created some interactive features to get more information about their customers. Chanel offers to take an online test to find the lipstick tone fitting their personality. Nose (a Paris-based concept store) asks you about the fragrances you wear in order to establish a pyramid of notes that seem to fit your tastes and then suggests 5 niches perfumes you should enjoy.
My olfactory pyramid according to Nose’s test
To take the personalized experience further, regular customers are recognized by sales persons and it makes advising them easier. Online, it’s easier as customers who don’t shop often can have an account that follows their clicks and purchases. This makes it a lot easier to guide them to items they should enjoy more.
Finally, sales persons take your items to the counter for you and let you enjoy your visit hands-free. Online, it’s easy to fill up a shopping bag and just exit the website without finishing the purchase. When you logged in before adding items to your shopping bag, it’s a great opportunity to send an e-mail saying “Hello again miss Smith, we noticed you didn’t have the chance to finish your shopping” in a non-creepy way. And when you leave an actual store, you are greeted on your way out with a warm and polite goodbye. It should be the same online. Why not send a nice thank you e-mail after a purchase, and suggest items that fit your tastes. Doing so even when you didn’t buy anything would be a nice finishing touch as well, although it might bring out some Big Brother fears.