The UK retail industry is undergoing enormous change as it adjusts to today’s highly connected, digitally driven world. A world leader in e-commerce, the UK is at the forefront of digital retailing, with online purchases predicted to make up over 26% of total retail sales by 2022. Historically seen as a distribution platform more suited for selling low to mid-range luxury goods, traditional luxury brands have been slow to adapt to the growth of digital retail.
In the past, high-end products have been reserved for ‘premium’ offline retail experiences, with an assumption that luxury shoppers wouldn’t spend money on an online purchase over a personalised, tactile in-store experience. However, as today’s luxury consumers grow more digitally savvy, online experiences are becoming increasingly important to overall customer satisfaction.
In 2018, online experiences influenced over 40% of luxury purchases, be they online research for a product that is bought offline, social media conversations, or by browsing a luxury brand’s website. This is expected to increase as Millennial and Gen Z customers – demographics currently responsible for around 30% of luxury spending – continue to buy luxury products.
The last year has seen many established luxury brands begin to embrace digital strategies. Businesses across the sector have been tightening up their digital presence, online customer experiences and internal operations by investing in the latest technology, forming partnerships and making acquisitions. Businesses are continuing to innovate into 2019 with pioneering services such as Net-A-Porter’s “Style Trial” offering, which allows top-spending customers to try up to 30 pieces of clothing at home before buying. The service even comes with a personal shopper for London residents, who provides at-home consultation and brings a personalised selection of clothing, jewellery, watches and hard luxury to try.
Although retailers are taking action, there’s still ground to cover. To meet the expectations of modern consumers, brands need to work towards delivering a unified customer experience across their online and offline channels and update their operations, systems and processes to become more customer-obsessed.
Whether in-store or online, luxury customers expect an enjoyable ‘first-class’ shopping experience – one where they feel looked after and catered to. The websites they visit should be mobile-friendly, responsive and intuitive and orders processed quickly without issue. When they receive their purchase, it should be presented with care and attention, as it would be in a high-end boutique. While most retailers can’t provide their own ‘Style Trial’ service, simply ensuring your luxury packaging is presented well, with beautiful colours and bespoke detailing is an accessible way to deliver a memorable unboxing experience that will leave a lasting impression and keep customers returning.
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