Best Practices: Luxury E-Commerce

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Best Practices - Luxury eCommerce Industry

Two additional best practices in the luxury eCommerce industry are offering a personalized shopping experience and website optimization. A personalized shopping experience offers many options for shaping the business to the buyers' tastes and preferences and keeps loyal customer segments happy. Website optimization conveys the quality and luxury of the products. More details are listed in the findings below.

BP#1: Offer a Personalized Shopping Experience

What Personalized Shopping is and Why it is a Best Practice

  • Personalization is a key practice for increasing luxury goods' conversion rates and increasing sales performance online. This means that the luxury brands and retailers need to be up to date with their customers' change of tastes, the latest trends, and preferences. It helps boost the clients' confidence and trust, making them more willing to purchase the products.
  • eCommerce personalization offers many options for shaping the business to the buyers' tastes, predicting their needs, and simplifying the purchase process.
  • Personalization keeps loyal customer segments happy by offering a more personal service with incentives such as private access to new collections and exclusive sales. This focus on customer loyalty rewards the shoppers who spend big, keeps them engaged, and provides them with more opportunities to spend more. From the luxury customers' experience, being singled out for the personalized treatment makes them feel appreciated.
  • Some techniques that are used by luxury brands and retailers to offer a personalized shopping experience include:
    • Offering curated collections whereby the eCommerce sites curate their product listings for the promotion of their best and newest goods. Apart from providing an outstanding shopping experience, it also makes the niche products easily accessible for the valued clients.
    • Improving the delivery services in response to luxury goods customers who always choose the best quality with the fastest possible delivery. Luxury consumers have very high expectations when it comes to same day shipping, special packaging, free return policies, and online live tracking.
    • The selection of an open-source eCommerce platform that provides a high level of website customization to personalize the shop according to the brand's position and customers' needs. This creates an adaptation to the luxury buyers' shopping preferences.
    • Use of digitized services such as free expert advice, shoppable ads, and new messaging technologies which allow product purchasing.

Luxury Brand using the Best Practice

  • Fendi Home offers a personalized shopping experience for all their products, including luxury furniture products, for its customer through an offering called "Premium Services."
  • Through the premium services, customers have various options through which they can shop by placing their order by phone, buying online and having the product delivered, or shopping online and collecting the order at their convenience.
  • Fendi also has "Made to Order" special services where customers can create a unique style that can be personalized down to the smallest details such as materials and colors.
  • Standard shipping for Fendi products is free and express shipping is available. Once a customer purchases an item, they receive the UPS tracking number by email and can then follow the delivery online through the "Track Your Order" page.

BP#2: Website Optimization

What Website Optimization is and Why it is a Best Practice

  • Luxury retailers optimize their eCommerce sites on a regular basis to ensure that they work well for users. Website optimization is a best practice as it provides a great customer experience with a clear focus on the customer.
  • Some websites which manage to combine a great look and feel with ease of use for luxury brands and retailers are Burberry, Net A Porter and Selfridges. These sites allow customers to checkout without having to create an account every time.
  • Since luxury products are supposed to look great, the sites utilizing this best practice use imagery to impress visitors by showing them the products in the best possible light. This makes up for the fact that shoppers are unable to touch the products. The shoppers need to see the details and this calls for the use of high-quality images which users can zoom in on.
  • For example, Net A Porter zooms in on the Fendi Casa furniture so that every detail can be seen.
  • Multiple images are also crucial so that shoppers can see products from a range of views.
  • Great copywriting on the websites is also a best practice which allows for the conveyance of the quality and luxury of the products. The tone of the voice also needs to match the product and the price, letting the shoppers know why the products are worth paying thousands for.
  • Excellent customer service on the sites should also be available online, and quickly. Things like clear contact details make a difference when placed in key areas like the checkout as they allow customers to quickly find help and have their questions answered.
  • Luxury furniture and home decor brand Horchow places clear contact options around the site, offering callbacks at the customer's availability, or the chance to get assistance. This matches the in-store experience in a way.
  • As a best practice, website optimization leads to the creation of trust and an increase in the perceived value of what is being sold. The whole website needs to "feel" luxurious.
  • According to a study done by CXL, the best performing luxury brands which use eCommerce avenues employ the following practices on their websites:
  • The study also emphasizes the importance of uncluttering a website that wants to appear as high-end.

Luxury Brand using the Best Practice

  • Sub Zero offers 24/7 support services for new shoppers or people who already own their appliances. The company states on the website, " Our Customer Care team has a reputation for service that's as exceptional as our products." On the website, Sub Zero provides its customer care service number where customers can call for help.
  • Sub Zero also provides multiple images of its products on its website. For example, a shopper can have a range of views of Wolf Stoves and even zoom into the image to have a closer look. There are images of the appliances' interior details.
  • Emphasis is created on the photos of the products by enabling viewing of one image at a time, use of fewer colors, and use of white space around the photos.
  • The description of the products is also elegant which is achieved through clear typology and a tone that exudes luxury. An example is, "Wolf's iconic professional look and handle, which integrates beautifully into surrounding cabinetry with flush installation and includes options such as self-clean, delayed start, timed cook, Sabbath mode, and more."
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Insights - Luxury eCommerce Industry

Sources suggest that what makes an e-commerce experience great for shoppers of luxury appliances, furniture, or lighting fixtures are free and quick shipping, options to try or visualize products, information on products' authenticity and provenance, tools to aid purchase decision-making, and an easy-to-use interface.

Free and Quick Shipping

  • Consumers looking for and buying luxury furniture online seek free and quick shipping.
  • According to Medley, an eco-friendly furniture maker in the United States, online luxury furniture shoppers wish to be relieved of shipping charges but want to be assured that their order will arrive at their door in good condition.
  • Medley notes that some luxury furniture brands have responded to this consumer preference by offering not only discounted or free shipping or white-glove delivery but also in-home trials and free and easy returns.
  • Urban Electric Co., an American luxury lighting manufacturer with an online store, knows that in a world dominated by Amazon, consumers are used to quick shipping. To compete with Amazon, it shaved off several weeks from its usual delivery lead time by removing bottlenecks in the production process. According to Dave Dawson, founder of Urban Electric Co., he does not want to reach the point where consumers love their product but are turned off by long lead times.
  • Stephen Kuhl and his friend founded luxury furniture brand Burrow because of their own disappointing experiences with expensive and slow furniture shipping.

Option to Try or Visualize Product

  • While luxury furniture shoppers prefer to make their purchase online, they still wish to feel and experience the furniture in person or online.
  • This is what Geoff Hawkes of Sonder Living, a United States-based luxury furniture retailer whose pieces can be bought online or in-store, has to say about competing with Amazon.
  • Even Burrow, a luxury furniture brand that started out as an e-commerce site, has recently opened its retail store in Manhattan.
  • Perigold, a luxury furniture e-tailer and the high-end segment of Wayfair, also has a shop-the-room feature that allows consumers to purchase pieces on virtually staged properties.

Information about How Product was Made

  • According to furniture maker Medley, online luxury furniture shoppers wish to learn about how furniture pieces were made. They spend additional time to ascertain whether a piece of furniture was made to last, and was crafted in a sustainable and environment-friendly manner by skilled artisans.
  • According to Kuhl, co-founder and chief executive officer of online luxury furniture brand Burrow, Burrow makes furniture that is "mindful of both people's lives and the planet" because this is what customers want.
  • Even luxury appliance brand Miele recognizes this consumer preference. According to this German brand that sells in the United States, consumers wish to know that the appliance brand they are selecting has values that are aligned with their own values.
  • 1stdibs, a luxury furniture e-tailer headquartered in New York, also indicates that luxury consumers wish to know of the provenance and authenticity of the products that it sells.

Tools to Aid Purchase Decision-Making

  • It appears luxury appliance consumers want online tools that can help them choose among available options.
  • Vitamix, an American luxury appliance brand, recently got high points from luxury consumers for its Blender Recommender, which the consumers described as an "inspired bit of utility" that made their online shopping more straightforward.

Easy-to-Use Interface

  • It appears luxury appliance consumers prefer e-commerce sites that are easy to navigate.
  • Ascedia, which helped luxury appliance brands Sub-Zero and Wolf develop their e-commerce site, said their efforts to make the site easy to navigate have paid off. It noted that the e-commerce revenue and e-commerce conversions of the two brands have increased by 149% and 79%, respectively.

Research Strategy

To determine if the desired information is readily available in the public domain, we first looked for surveys of American, Canadian, or British consumers shopping for luxury appliances, furniture, or lighting fixtures. Since the perspective of consumers is often determined through surveys, we figured surveys are the best place to start. We looked as well for articles or reports that cover the online consumer journey or path-to-purchase in these three premium or high-end product categories, as the consumer journey or path-to-purchase often details consumer preferences. This initial strategy, however, did not produce any helpful result. While we were able to find surveys of luxury shoppers, none of the surveys offer any information specific to luxury appliance, furniture, or lighting fixture. Most of the surveys cover apparel or fashion only.

Given the dearth of information on the topic, we changed tactics and turned our attention to recent launches of e-commerce sites in the luxury appliance, furniture, or lighting fixture space. Articles about new services often provide information on the consumer needs these new services are trying to address, so we thought examining these articles might be the next best thing to do. This second strategy proved effective because it led us to a number of helpful articles, particularly those discussing the launch of luxury furniture e-tailer Burrow, luxury furniture e-tailer Perigold, and luxury and vintage furniture e-tailer 1stdibs.

To find additional information we researched luxury appliance, furniture, and lighting fixture brands individually to see what these brands are saying about online shoppers. Luxury brands that sell in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, such as Sub-Zero, Wolf, Fendi Home, Thomas Blakemore, Schonbek Lighting, and Horchow, were among the brands we researched. This final strategy, however, produced very limited results, and we only learned a few insights about the e-commerce services of Miele, Sub-Zero, and Wolf.

All in all, we were unable to find any quantitative data about online luxury appliance, furniture, or lighting fixture shoppers. It appears surveys of this specific group of shoppers have not been conducted yet. What we presented above, in lieu of quantitative data, are qualitative insights.