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The beginner’s guide to luxury eCommerce

Millennials and Generation Z prefer quality over quantity. According to a Nielsen report, 73% of global Millennials are willing to pay extra for products that stand the test of time and protect the environment.

It’s why millennials and Generation Z account for nearly half of Gucci’s total sales, and experts predict online luxury orders to represent 18% of all sales revenue by 2023.

However, luxury eCommerce is more than the product itself; it’s about bathing the customer in a luxurious experience of high-end touchpoints, personalized shopping, and first-class fulfillment.

What is luxury eCommerce?

Luxury eCommerce is the sale of designer, high-end, or premium products online. It encompasses every detail of the customer journey, from product discovery to fulfillment.

Luxury goods have traditionally shone the brightest in retail stores, where salespeople can embody white-glove service. When it came to eCommerce, premium brands were concerned that the care, attention, and devotion that defined their brands were not easily replicable online.

However, technology and consumer behavior has changed significantly over the past few years, and now luxury brands are changing with them.

Luxury online sales are predicted to reach $91 billion by 2025 and represent nearly a fifth of luxury sales and a quarter of eCommerce sales. In other words, now is the time to step foot into the world of premium eCommerce.

The fundamentals of luxury eCommerce

The success of premium online retailers boils down to four fundamentals; customer experience, branding, loyalty, and the multi-channel experience.

1. Customer experience

The customer experience is as important, if not more important, online. Customers paying for premium products also want a premium shopping experience that is seamless, intuitive, and personalized.

2. Branding

Strong branding is crucial for setting yourself apart from budget online retailers and reassuring customers about the quality of your online brand and the service provided.

3. Customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is essential to high-end online retailers, so you must make every effort to foster repeat custom. However, be cautious of discount codes, referral schemes, and other loyalty tactics that could cheapen your brand and alienate your audience.

4. Sales channels

Most premium brands sell via their Shopify or BigCommerce website, but you shouldn’t avoid other sales channels altogether. Selling via social media and online marketplaces with brand protection gives customers the choice of where they learn about and buy your products.

How to provide a premium shopping experience

A premium online shopping experience spans four stages of the customer journey:

Product discovery

Storytelling is a powerful way to engage and seduce customers with premium products, by painting a picture they want to be part of or offering a lifestyle they wish to possess.

Brands such as Burberry have directed short films to tell their story, but you can achieve the same effect using high-quality photography and cleverly crafted content on the channels your target audience frequents.

Education is also crucial in some luxury spaces and is a smart way to engage shoppers while subtly promoting your products. For example, high-end skincare brands use educational content to teach audiences how to look after their skin, as demonstrated by their products.

Tip: Give insights into how your products can elevate your customers’ lives, whether it’s improving their skin, increasing their confidence, or boosting their social standing.

Customer acquisition

Luring customers to your products is the simple part — convincing them to invest in your products is the challenge, especially given higher price points. This is where premium services are crucial and set you apart from budget and standard online retailers.

For example, you could offer:

  • Personal shopping: A live chat personal shopper who provides customers with styling advice, demonstrations, or product recommendations. 
  • Fast shipping: Personalized delivery speeds of 1-day and 2-day depending where the customer lives, that get products to them as quickly as possible. 
  • Free shipping: Free, expedited delivery that echos the premium levels of customer care and service you provide. 
  • Technology: Technology that creates the experience of buying in-store online, such as augmented dressing rooms, video stylists, and personalized product recommendations.

You should also note that millennials and Generation Z discover most luxury products via social media. Use Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping to create a seamless shopping experience that allows customers to purchase your products in-app.

Order fulfillment

The fulfillment of online orders is the make or break stage of luxury eCommerce because this is where you meet, exceed, or fail customer delivery expectations.

Enhance this stage of the journey by investing in procedures and fulfillment services such as:

  • Quality control: implement strict quality control measures upon inbound and outbound delivery to ensure products are pristine, undamaged, and of the superior quality customers expect. 
  • Fast shipping: provide customers with fast shipping speeds by working with an eCommerce fulfillment service to distribute stock across the country to ship within 2-days and 1-day. 
  • Reliable shipping: use a reputable shipping carrier to deliver orders safely to customers and reduce delivery theft or fraud. 
  • Packaging: keep branded packaging, personalized inserts, and product protection (such as dust bags) inside the order box to enhance the customer experience while boosting delivery speeds.

Relevant reading: Why branded boxes are hurting your profits

If you can’t meet this heightened level of fulfillment in-house, use an outsourced fulfillment service to do it for you.

Customer service

Finally, customers want to feel like a VIP when buying premium products, so treat them as a VIP by:

  • Personalizing their experience through product recommendations, targeted marketing, and location-based shipping speeds.
  • Allowing customers to choose their favorite channel for shopping or communicating by using multiple sales channels and marketing platforms.
  • Providing dedicated and attentive eCommerce customer service throughout the relationship.
  • Adding finishing touches such as order tracking, thank you notes, and product care instructions.

Wrapping up

The luxury eCommerce industry may have been hesitant to join the online world at first, but today there is no stopping brands from excelling online.

The ethos behind premium online sales is no different from in-store: a premium and an attentive shopping experience that makes the customer feel like a VIP. And this is easily achievable online using personalization, seamless integrations, premium fulfillment services, top customer care.

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