Luxury brands now embracing eCommerce on websites

Recently looking over my group project’s eCommerce website that we had chosen, we made two observations.

  1. Our luxury furniture company’s website had a shopping cart (which seems odd when you’re spending $500 on a lamp)
  2. This shopping cart only pertained to the Los Angeles based store, not any other of it’s international locations.
The only conclusion I could come to is that there has to be an element of exclusion and inaccessibility to mimic the idea of why consumers are so drawn to the expensive products of luxury brands.
Wondering how brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci stay exclusive but also participate in ecommerce, I stumbled upon an article in AdWeek titled “Is Digital Killing the Luxury Brand?”.
In the article they point out that
 “Digital is democratizing; it’s about accessibility.The brand image for high-end fashion is all about inaccessibility: Keep the masses out so that the people who can afford to buy their way in feel they’re exceptional.”
With that being said, we can assume that luxury brands have to work a lot harder when providing customers with an eCommerce option.
Mashable gives 3 ways luxury brands are taking advantage of digital without losing their customers feelings of exclusivity.

1. Augmented Reality

You receive a card in the mail with instructions to visit a certain website. On that site, you hold the card up in front of your computer’s camera and, as if by magic, the screen doesn’t show a card at all, but rather a luxurious handbag or bracelet. This is but one (pedestrian) application of augmented reality (AR).

Outside of Harrod’s department store, watch company Tissot handed out wristbands that, when worn in front of an AR screen, allowed the shoppers to virtually “try on” watches. Now apply this technology to online shoppers. A recent study shows that 55% of the biggest luxury spenders prefer to shop online, in part to find better deals, but also to preserve anonymity.

Imagine a luxury boutique able to tap that demographic by erecting a temporary, mobile AR screen in their top-tier clients‘ homes or places of work. The clients virtually try on garments, accessories and jewelry. Their simple gestures record whether the client is interested in the items or not. With that information, the boutique sends the selected items to the client, who tries them on at home, returns the unwanted ones and is billed for those they keep. That client receives unprecedented experiential value, not to mention exclusivity.

2. Dynamic, Creative Video

Luxury ecommerce is booming, in part because wealthy U.S. consumers are spending much more time online — up to 30.3 hours from last year’s 5 hours.

The challenge of luxury ecommerce is recreating the in-store experience. With dynamic, creative video, luxury ecommerce sites can tailor the online shopping experience the way you would tailor your own in-store experience. For example, when you visit your favorite store in person, you don’t stop and look at products that target the opposite gender, or products you have no interest in. You walk straight to the most intriguing section.

Dynamic, creative video similarly “re-edits” online video content in real-time, depending on the individual user. Video content changes on the fly to reflect customers’ tastes, preferences age and gender. Toyota is already using video to promote the Camry, and Shopzilla is using it to suggest more relevant products to shoppers.

The same technology can be further applied to the overall design of the online store. Imagine an ecommerce portal that actually appears different, based on individual user taste.

3. Facial Recognition

No two faces are alike — what could be more exclusive? By coupling that exclusivity with hyper-targeted customer service and messaging, luxury brands can provide their customers with a priceless experience.

Facial recognition technology is making that possible. Unilever’s facial recog kiosks dispense free ice cream to smiling fans, and the Venetian resort’s system tailors restaurant and entertainment options based on a passerby’s preferences.

But imagine this: Upon walking into a luxury store, an elegantly crafted facial recognition system greets you, instantly individualizing your unique experience by determining your age, gender, purchase history and preferences. The service informs you of new inventory, current sales and upcoming promotions that may interest you. If you like, the system will upload selected information to your mobile device via Bluetooth, and if it’s a big store, will also use your phone’s geo-location to guide you around.

That’s exclusivity, an experience that’s finally “worth it” – and this technology exists today.

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About Samantha

MCDM grad student. Violinist and Californian.

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