Many businesses in this sector are reluctant to use Ecommerce as a sales platform as they believe that the medium doesn’t convey the right mixture of customer service and quality or they believe that their customers aren’t making use of digital devices.
Firstly let's lay to bed the idea that affluent shoppers aren’t using digital devices to shop. Data from the Schullman Research Centre, Emarketer and Unity Marketing Online all show that due to the disposable time affluent consumers tend to have, that they make an increasing use of E&M commerce in its various guises.
So now let's look at some examples of how luxury brands are representing themselves online and some of the lessons we can learn. We need to pay particular attention to how they express customer service and the quality of their goods. Not all make use of ecommerce currently as their products are bespoke to individual customers. The industry still has a way to go to provide the tools needed to convey this and this is our challenge in the future.
This is site is a great representation of a clean modern layout with some nice personal touches. From the top left the little “Good Afternoon” makes me think of being greeted by an assistant, the hero banner is a great mixture of inspiration and interest with a shop window of holiday gear, examples of real men style icons and an interview with Scott Schuman acclaimed fashion photographer.
Further down we find articles and features on seasonal topics all with a mixture of interest and advice as well as ideas for purchases. The debate section is particularly fun as it's like picking up a copy of Cosmo to find out what women really think!
Finally at the bottom we have an editor choice and for the really lazy an instant outfit! This is actually really great as we all know that as men we hate spending too much time choosing what goes with what so having someone guide us is always going to help. This plays into the customer service/personal shopper experience which when built with data in mind should start to learn your choices and really personalise the offering for you.
Maximising all screen resolutions is a must for premier sites and although not currently responsive Luxury Chalet makes good use of immersive wide screen images. It’s always worth spending a bit more on really great images no matter what the media and by not including any people there is immediately a sense of exclusivity. We can also see they have used terms like collection, concierge etc. Again this sets the scene for the level of service you should expect to receive.
An easy to pick category page which allows you to either pick the actual chalet or start from the region you are interested in. Notice the unobtrusive but clear call to action to enquire at every stage. As Luxury Chalet don’t sell packages it's not suitable for them to allow online booking instead the personal touch is important and so the offer to discuss your needs is clear at every stage. If you think that this is unsuitable then you probably don’t fit their client profile, harsh but true.
Images again lead the description of the chalet with details you would need to understand what you are getting. If you aren’t quite finding what you need then you can click the Inspire me button which will direct you to an agent or to one of the other sites in the group covering ski packages and private destinations.
Concierge services are inherent in Luxury Chalets service offering and rather than trying to list everything they offer again the call to action is to make an enquiry. Great follow up is of course imperative if the experience is to continue and the ability to build a chain of quality communications is another sign that this is a premium offering.
I love this site! This screenshot really doesn’t do it justice. The image moves as a slow movie built in Flash, this would be better in HTML5 so that it works on the iPad, however it is truly inspirational and gorgeous. This site screams glamour, exclusivity and value. As all premium products are now sought after in affluent markets it is clearly important that there is Chinese and Japanese versions of the site, Russian and Arabic would also be a useful addition I'm sure in the near future.
The site provides lots of detail about the providence, craftsmanship and quality of the diamonds and other materials used in producing the final products. This is both interesting and builds trust that they truly are in the top 1% of producers in the world and worth every penny.
Product display is very nicely laid out with various levels of detail, only a 360° view might improve this or even augmented reality although this might be seen as tacky for the brand.
Content such as the difference underlines the reasons why you should trust Graff and part with your inheritance! More seriously if you were the Great Gatsby or Tom Buchanan then you would use this site to discover your next gift for Daisy.
The common thread
Producing luxury and premium sites are all about the details and creating an environment that helps the user immediately understand what is on offer and that there is much more to luxury than just a high price tag. Retailers need to extend the level of personal customer care they provide in-store, so if greeting a customer is a principle, then apply it to the site as well. Websites are really only an extension of the shop window and the cash till so put as much effort into keeping it fresh and interesting for customers. By providing the same level of advice and knowledge as the longest serving member of your team can offer, you will find users coming back time and again.