How to Do Product Research for Luxury D2C Ecommerce (Full Guide)

Updated 3 years ago
Paula Guevara
June 3, 2021
6 min read

Selling luxury products directly to customers isn’t the same as marketing regular goods online. For luxury brands, you’ll need to conduct extensive ecommerce product research before you can launch or maintain a successful direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce brand. 

Although luxury consumers are usually willing to pay more for products, they expect individualized shopping experiences that go beyond the mundane – just like when walking into a high-end bricks-and-mortar store. Providing this level of service in an online environment isn’t easy, but conducting extensive product and consumer research will help.

When it comes to luxury ecommerce items, you'll need to know how to do product research for several different brands and items that don't fall under the normal company’s purview. With so many options available online, your luxury ecommerce product research can help elevate your products above the mundane. 

In a growing industry, choosing how you market and promote your luxury products is paramount to growing revenues and establishing a recognizable D2C brand. 

Key Considerations for Luxury D2C Ecommerce Sites

The luxury market was one of the most negatively affected by the recent pandemic, falling by 23% in 2020 according to Bain & Co. 

But there is good news! 

The same major consulting firm predicts that luxury will begin to rebound strongly in 2021, growing by 15% on average. 

And this growth will come, in large part, from ecommerce. In fact, luxury ecommerce sales are predicted to represent 30% of the total market in 2025. 

While brands are finding their feet, you have the ideal opportunity to establish and grow your company. 

Ecommerce today isn’t just about the digital experience. Every interaction in your customer’s journey will affect their perception of your brand (and influence your bottom line). 

The best luxury retailers are always keeping up with the latest online trends and adjusting their journey design accordingly. 

Luxury ecommerce starts with identifying the most profitable products to sell online and providing an engaging customer experience during every step of the buying journey

Two Important Lessons for Online Retailers

You also shouldn’t assume you know what your customers expect, as illustrated by JCPenney’s attempt at rebranding almost 10 years ago. 

It’s since become a lesson in what not to do for other retailers who want to grow their online operations. 

JCPenney learned two main lessons that other luxury retailers should keep in mind from the start.

1. Always Listen to Your Audience

While you may have a good idea of what audience to target, you'll need to do some market research about your customers’ true motivations. 

It’s always a good idea to learn about your customers' expectations before making any sweeping changes to how you sell products online. 

This includes knowing how your customers interact with brands, products, and services by studying comments from social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. 

You can use this information to:

  • Identify emerging trends among your target audience
  • Find out what people think about past purchases and experiences with a retailer
  • Learn about people's expectations when buying luxury goods online
  • Identify new needs that competitors aren’t capitalizing on to distinguish your brand from the rest

The insights you gain from this process will help you position your luxury goods for maximum effect in an increasingly competitive market. 

While the fashion and luxury product sector may have been slow to adopt ecommerce as a service channel, it's becoming more competitive by the day as more retailers and consumers realize the benefits of selling and buying online. 

You should understand your buyers’ motivation and the elements that create friction points when they interact with different brands online. And whatever you discover on these platforms, you should adapt your strategy to incorporate current consumer trends in your product offerings. 

2. Keep Your Ecommerce Technology Stack Up to Date

The second factor to keep in mind is that the luxury product market is an emerging sector in the ecommerce boom and technologies are driving wider adoption. Compared to most other industries, luxury goods will likely have a smaller conversion rate, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are failing as a business. 

You should keep up with all the developments from your sector and ensure you maintain an average conversion rate within the median for the industry. Currently, the industry is trending upward, which is good news for luxury ecommerce sites. 

As we move into the future, having an ecommerce service channel will only become more important for luxury brands, and technologies will enable you to capitalize on emerging trends. 

Five Ways to Improve Your Luxury Ecommerce Product Research

High-end brands initially tried to resist the inevitable and only used digital channels for things like marketing and promotion. 

Those brands that did embrace the ecommerce boom quickly found out that it’s not as simple as listing products and waiting for buyers to just show up. 

Shoppers looking for luxury goods online still want the essence of the high-end shopping experience. 

There’s already a lot of information out there, but the following five product research tips aimed at improving luxury ecommerce sales can help you adjust your strategy for success. 

1. Check-in Regularly with Product Demand

If you’re selling a luxury item, the brand name should carry some weight with the digital generation. Identifying personas from your customers based on product demand can help you adjust your strategy as you discover new insights about product demand and consumer behavior.

You’ll want to keep up with changes in consumer behavior by looking for popular search terms, hashtags, checking for changes in Amazon categories, and studying product reviews wherever you find them. 

Use this information to adjust your marketing strategy and journey design when you notice definitive changes in how consumers interact with brands or come across any data point that could influence your ecommerce strategy. 

Making daily changes according to your latest findings may seem excessive. But in the luxury goods market, you’ll need to adapt quickly as every sale makes it worth the effort. 

2. Keep Up to Date with Case Studies and Reviews

With high-end products, you need to present yourself as an authority. Your reputation (which encompasses the entire customer journey) will influence how people view your brand. 

Using data from case studies and collating information from customer reviews will give you a clear picture of the consensus about a product.

Case studies can help you to:

  • Ensure you understand people’s perceived value of your product
  • Provide specific insights into your service and product selections (considering factors like cross-selling)
  • Reconsider certain approaches to build greater trust with your customers, ensuring you eliminate friction points at every stage of the journey
  • Adapt to rapidly changing customer behavior when needed, especially in situations like a global pandemic

3. Conduct Market Research or Piggyback on Other’s Findings

You can learn a lot online from your own customers, but focused research may be the only way to discover a product’s true potential. 

Primary and secondary research will help refine exploratory concepts into definitive goals for your luxury ecommerce business. 

This includes:

  • Measuring customer trends across the market
  • Modeling customer personas and designing experiences for those traits
  • Conducting interviews with customers that cover the entire user journey
  • Knowing what your competitors are doing and actively looking for missed opportunities
  • Hosting focus groups or commissioning similar sessions – this may not be necessary if you use sources like McKinsey to keep informed about trends, developments, and sudden left turns in the market 

4. Experiment with Strategies to Hone Your Market

A luxury brand should have loyal customers who help promote products by sharing their positive experiences organically. This is the best way to expose your brand to a larger audience. 

You’ll also need to position your products accurately in your market. Being iconic and exclusive is part and parcel of running a high-end ecommerce business. 

To build brand trust, you’ll need to experiment and test different copy, imagery, offers, campaigns, collaborations, influencers, or any other digital strategy available today. 

You can experiment with:

  • Product descriptions and details, considering SEO rules and other emerging relevant rules
  • 3D and AR product visuals that capture the user’s attention and provide an immersive experience when viewing the product
  • Marketing campaigns that use customer segmentation to identify ideal customers for a specific product
  • Online product customization that allows customers to add their personal flair to your products

Whatever you discover during your experimentation should factor into your user journey design immediately. Consumers are adjusting and reacting to new information every day, and so should you. 

5. Use a Product Customization Platform to Deliver Better Experiences

You should use the information gathered during your research to build better user experiences that evolve with customer expectations. 

Buyers who shop for luxury products online will be looking for stunning visuals, product customization options, and exceptional service during each stage of the sales funnel.  

Take, for example, Louis Vuitton. This top global luxury retailer leverages the power of premium product personalization to give their online shoppers the ultimate personalized ecommerce shopping experience.

Louis Vuitton Luxury Handbag Personalization

Via Louis Vuitton

Using a product customization platform allows your customers to personalize products in real time. Your visitors can engage with products using 3D renderings and change materials, patterns, or any other feature you have available for an item. 

What’s more, the most powerful product customization platforms (like ConfigureID) allow you to gather and analyze all of the data produced by the product configurator. 

This means you can dig into which colors, patterns, optional add-ons, and any number of other customization options are most (and least) popular among your shoppers. And this powerful info can help you make better, more profitable business decisions.

Luxury Product Personalization with ConfigureID

Looking to get started with luxury product personalization? ConfigureID can help.

Our premium product personalization platform enables luxury brands to build and deploy successful product personalization programs at scale

We help you boost product value and appeal while driving customer loyalty and engagement across your digital channels. 

To see how ConfigureID can help deliver engaging experiences for your luxury ecommerce products, request your free demo today. 

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