High-end and luxury brands have traditionally been reluctant to make the transition towards eCommerce that so many of their less esteemed peers have embraced wholeheartedly. After all, luxury brands pride themselves on offering an exclusive buying experience that’s hard to replicate. Historically, this has meant that physical stores are prioritized over digital ones. In fact, some luxury brands forgo selling their products online entirely.
High-end and luxury eCommerce brands know that their customers have different wants, needs, and desires than traditional shoppers—and they’ve tailored their buying experiences to meet them. Creating a compelling online shopping experience that replicates—or at least, mirrors—the in-person experience has proven challenging for luxury brands. As a result, many brands have chosen to not invest heavily in their eCommerce efforts.
But things are beginning to shift. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more luxury brands are putting more emphasis on their eCommerce efforts as consumer behavior changes. According to Bain & Company, online luxury purchases have increased during the pandemic and could represent up to 30% of the market by 2025.
“The coronavirus crisis will force the industry to think more creatively and innovate even faster to meet a host of new consumer demands and channel constraints,” says Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at Bain & Company. “Winning brands will be the ones that best interpret the zeitgeist all while remaining consistent with their inner DNA and individual story.”
So how do luxury companies operate successful eCommerce businesses while delivering excellent customer experience and staying true to their unique brand attributes? In this blog, we’ll examine why good user experience (UX) is so important for luxury brands. Then, we’ll offer some tips for improving UX to create a luxury eCommerce experience that delivers.
Just like a brick-and-mortar store, running and maintaining an eCommerce site requires a commitment to continuous improvement. Your online store evolves as your business does, and luxury brands need to stay in the know about design trends and industry practices to deliver the high-end shopping experiences customers expect. This is where UX comes into play.
The goal of UX design is to ensure eCommerce sites are simple, easy to use, and delightful for users to engage with. Ultimately, good UX design is a key factor in improving overall user satisfaction and loyalty by enhancing the experience people have when they engage with an eCommerce website.
UX design plays a critical role in the success of all eCommerce businesses, luxury brands included. By improving site navigation, reducing page load times, streamlining paths to purchase, and more, you can boost conversions, curb bounce rate, and offer a truly superior customer experience.
Joe Comins, Codal’s senior design manager, says that good eCommerce UX constantly shifts and changes to respond to the needs of the customer. “We try to understand their aims and objectives and plot a path from ideation through to conversion for each of the user types. We plot the movements, the feelings, the journey of users—and pair that with the business requirements of the company. It’s a difficult balance to perfect, and everyone skews it slightly differently to a different end goal. In the end, we just want users to have a frictionless experience, allowing the company to benefit from the ease of a customer’s transition.”
That “frictionless experience” is crucial for luxury brands especially. Customers shopping for high-end items are prepared to spend top dollar—and they expect a seamless buying journey. Historically, luxury brands have invested heavily in their brick and mortar locations to deliver this, providing customers with swanky showrooms, hyper-attentive sales personnel, and in-store perks.
But as shoppers transition to browsing and purchasing luxury items online, they expect this experience to translate to the digital storefront. This is where good UX is critical. By prioritizing your site’s UX, you can foster superior customer relationships that reflect your luxury brand’s status—and drive conversions.
Here are some tips to help improve your UX to offer customers a shopping experience worthy of your brand’s prestige.
Today’s consumers can be fickle, and luxury shoppers are no different. They want to browse, view, and research products on their own terms, from any device they see fit, be it mobile, tablet, or desktop. They demand a seamless experience when moving through multiple channels and touchpoints, a crucial component of omnichannel commerce.
Responsive design means your eCommerce site works well on devices and screens of all sizes. This user-friendly design approach ensures that the most important elements of mobile commerce are accessible and easy to find. Consider incorporating microinteractions and other visual cues to facilitate intelligent navigation and an overall streamlined performance geared towards a small screen.
Customers won’t be able to interact with your products in person, so you’ll need to be able to convey their attractiveness and quality accurately with images. These are high-priced items, so basic photos (think drab backgrounds, familiar angles, etc.) aren’t going to suffice. Selling luxury products is all about communicating the feeling of owning them. Make sure you draw customers in with engaging, enticing, and elegant product imagery.
Products should take center stage, so avoid cramming large amounts of items onto a single page. Use large, high-resolution photos that demonstrate the quality of products. And this should go without saying, but definitely avoid stock photos.
The luxury shopping experience is all about personalization. When shoppers visit a luxury showroom, they get an immersive experience that allows them to visualize how products will look and feel in their lives. They can try on clothes, see how furniture looks in a room, and generally engage with products in a tactile way.
Unfortunately, this is impossible to replicate on an eCommerce site. However, it is possible to allow customers to interact with products virtually from the comfort of their homes using augmented reality (AR).
Luxury brands can incorporate AR applications into their eCommerce sites to help customers virtually try on clothing, see how a couch will look in their living room, and much more. AR can help luxury brands bridge the gap between shopping at a physical store and online shopping by making it easier for customers to visualize products in their lives and see their value.
Improving your luxury brand’s eCommerce UX can not only improve your conversion rate but create long-term revenue growth by forging lasting relationships with your customers. As more and more luxury consumers move to the web to make purchases that historically would have happened in-store, it’s imperative that luxury companies create engaging virtual shopping experiences that reflect the hard-earned status of their brands.
Interested in learning more about improving your luxury eCommerce site’s UX? Get in touch with Codal today.