6 Strategies to Improve the Luxury Retail Experience for Shoppers

Updated 1 month ago
Lindsay Vine
February 3, 2021
4 min read

The luxury retail experience, like every other retail experience, has changed dramatically following the COVID-19 pandemic.

From new ideas about what luxury is to changes in customer expectations around the shopping experience, luxury brands must redefine, reset, and re-engage the new market reality.

That reality is experiential. In other words, the dawn of experience-oriented business is here. From digital presence to physical, luxury retailers must reinvent the experience they create for their customers.

It’s a tall order. So, what can luxury retailers do to level up their experience for customers?

Here’s what an expert panel discussion with Astound Commerce, CoreMedia, and ConfigureID revealed.

6 Ways to Enhance the Luxury Retail Experience for Customers

When it comes to retail, experience is everything. That means luxury retailers have their work cut out for them. 

Here are six ways to enhance the luxury retail experience for customers based on our findings with Astound Commerce and CoreMedia. 

To deliver the best possible experience, you should: 

1. Reconsider What Luxury Means to Your Customers

If there’s one thing we’ve said over and over, it’s that customer values have shifted dramatically in response to the pandemic—and that shift is here for good.

What we once considered valuable when shopping may no longer be as important as new needs have arisen in this unprecedented situation.

According to Jim Stirewalt of CoreMedia, luxury has come to mean different things to different people. Identifying and fulfilling that meaning is critical for luxury brands that hope to survive moving forward.

What does luxury mean in the post-pandemic world? Andrew Guldman of ConfigureID and Stirewalt offer some insights on what the most successful luxury do:

  • Emphasize personal relationships as the foundation for curated experiences.
  • Address the emotional aspects of the luxury retail experience.
  • Adopt a value-conscious stance in tune with what their customers believe.
  • Minimize offerings to reduce stress and elevate the sense of exclusivity.

2. Reenergize Your Brand With Social Media

In the words of Stirewalt, “social is currency.” 

A recent study by McKinsey found that millennials—the largest consumer demographic—prefer experiences and “Instagrammable moments” rather than luxury items. That’s not to say they’re not interested in luxury; rather, there is a clear trend in the selection of luxury experiences over luxury products.

While Guldman notes that there has been some shift back toward luxury products due to the pandemic, this is a short-lived trend that will end when physical restrictions do. For luxury brands, that means it’s time to develop fluency in the world of influencers and social media marketing.

Today’s luxury shoppers want to see the experience that you can create for them, not the status symbol that you sell.

3. Optimize Your Digital Presence for Mobile

Did you know that half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices? In 2021, if your digital presence isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re missing out on literally half your customers.

Of course, that doesn’t just mean having a thoughtful mobile website—although Stirewalt advises that it’s absolutely necessary to nail the “simple” stuff first.

Many smartphones are now as powerful as computers, and they can do many of the same things while leveraging the advantages of their mobility. In particular, that means you’ve got more options than ever for elevating the luxury retail experience.

Imagine taking a virtual tour of a showroom, selecting an item, purchasing it, then picking it up an hour later. Virtual reality lets you do that. Or, imagine being able to see a luxury watch on your wrist in real-time. That’s possible with augmented reality.

4. Craft Inspiring Digital In-Store Experiences

At the end of the day, the name of the game in luxury retail is serving up curated, personalized experiences for each and every customer.

That’s no small feat, especially when we’re talking about emulating the in-store experience in terms of its curation and immersion.

How do we accomplish this? Guldman and Stirewalt explore these strategies in depth:

  • Deeper relevance. Product offerings must be both personally and culturally relevant.
  • Artificial intelligence. Leveraging customer data is critical, and all leading luxury brands use AI to do it.
  • Human-led digital experiences. Digital no longer means the human element is removed; in contrast, the greater the human contact, the better the luxury retail experience.

5. Practice Value-Driven Exclusivity

Luxury has always meant exclusivity in some form, but even ideas about exclusivity are changing.

Stirewalt notes that exclusivity is no longer restricted to the price tag. Part of that is the result of social media influencers who lead the way in helping people identify what luxury means to them based on their lifestyle, needs, and values.

That means exclusivity can occur in a few forms:

  • Scarcity. Items that are difficult to physically acquire maintain an exclusive status.
  • Quality. Unusually high-quality items—like luxury athletic wear—are exclusive because they stand apart from the big box “everybody” brands.
  • Relevance. Luxury and exclusivity are defined within the context of a person’s interests, hobbies, needs, profession, or other demographic.

6. Consider Your Brand’s Global Position

According to BCG, Chinese consumers have constituted some 35 percent of all luxury shoppers in recent years—a trend that held steady in 2020. As more places have gone digital in response to the pandemic, it’s facilitated ecommerce at unprecedented levels.

However, that hasn’t been without its challenges. Brands that have done the best to both maintain operations and deliver a superior luxury retail experience have a well-considered global position. According to both Guldman and Stirewalt, they:

  • Positioned their supply chains to avoid becoming overly reliant on one region.
  • Support multiple languages and currencies to reach global consumers.
  • Developed a digital-first business model to meet the demands of customers.

Get the Latest Insights to Apply to the Luxury Retail Experience

Consumer perceptions about what constitutes the ideal luxury retail experience are changing just as the definition of luxury itself is. In our panel discussion with Astound Commerce and CoreMedia, we covered some of the trending issues and strategies that luxury brands can use to adapt to this new normal.

From discovering how the needs and values of your own customers have changed to reconsidering your brand’s global position for increased resiliency and responsiveness, luxury brands face significant challenges to thrive in the future.

Fortunately, challenging landscapes like this one can lead to innovation and profitable business opportunities for those with the right insights and strategies to take advantage of of them.

Watch the panel discussion and discover what luxury brands must do right now to meet customer expectations.

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