The current health crisis is turning things upside down. It is a reality that no business, particularly in the, can escape from. Luxury is a specific commercial segment and the impact of Covid 19 is obviously different from that which can be seen in a local shop or in supermarkets and hypermarkets. Likewise, the brutal stop to tourism as well as the closure of luxury stores, deemed non-essential by the government, is a real tragedy for these brands and craftsmen.
However, this period of uncertainty and constant questioning could well be the trigger for a renewal of customer experience in the world of luxury.
So, how can it be improved so that buyers find their way back to the shops? Of course, the health crisis is not the only thing that is threatening the upscale retail sector. The measures taken now threaten to lead to a major economic crisis. These are excellent reasons to look at the customer experience in luxury boutiques.
Luxury Retail: A world apart
Luxury is a world that is particularly sensitive to the decline in tourism. The drop in turnover of this type of shops in Paris illustrates the problem well when we know that, according to the magazine Planet, Chinese consumers account for 33 % of the total number of customers of the capital’s chic boutiques, against 8 % for Americans and 6 % for Koreans.
It goes without saying that the health crisis has dealt a major blow to tourism and consequently to the world of luxury in Europe. Many retailers are now seeking a second wind in a more local attractiveness, but more than in other types of shops, health measures can hinder the pleasure that is traditionally associated with luxury purchases, whether it is a question of choosing a precious piece of jewellery, a designer watch or an Haute Couture outfit. It is also for this reason that salvation could come from the development of new forms of digital commerce, which we will come back to a little later. It’s clear that it is necessary to reinvent the customer experience in the world of luxury.
The main goal? To rediscover the attention to detail, the level of care, the attention, the sumptuousness that characterise customer expectations. When they choose to purchase luxury items, whether from a leading brand or designer clothes, shoes, perfumes, watches, bags or fashion accessories, customers have very specific expectations: they want at the very least to have an experience that matches the products they buy. The same applies to the prestige real estate and luxury tourism sectors.
What changes are to be expected in this sector?
The rise of distant-selling
The first possible strategy is not specific to the luxury sector. But it can offer this universe a new impetus and, above all, new customers. It is about omnicanality. The aim of this strategy is to improve the customer experience in the luxury sector by offering different ways of buying. Many online shops for luxury jewellery or watches had already been set up in recent years, yet some of them had difficulty getting started, as traditional luxury consumers prefer to go to a shop, where they are welcomed and advised. Emotion is at the heart of this shopping experience. However, the Covid 19 crisis has changed this and accelerated the structural changes towards omnicanality: the challenge now is to offer customers an online experience that is as close as possible to what they experience in the shop.
Of course, these stores did not wait for the crisis to renew themselves and seek to offer their customers a new, high-quality experience. Several relevant examples can be cited in this regard. For example, the French leather goods brand Louis Vuitton has designed an excellent digital experience for its online customers: the latter, who are very concerned about the smallest detail, can see the brand’s various products at 360° as well as in high definition. Lancôme, offers their customers a range of entirely tailor-made products thanks to tests carried out online. As you can see, these brands all have one thing in common: they all offer consumers a made-to-measure experience with high added value.
Refocusing on local customers
The second way out of this unprecedented economic and health crisis is to refocus on local customers. The health crisis is imposing major restrictions on international travel. For years now, most luxury brands in France and Europe have been focusing on foreign customers, the vast majority of whom are from Asia. These customers will obviously come back, but in the meantime, it would be wise to target, at least in the physical shops, a French or European clientele and to ensure clients in Asia continue to receive quality customer experience that keeps their loyalty alive.
This is one of the main reasons why we said that customer experience in luxury boutiques needs to be reinvented and rethought. The expectations and perspective of luxury goods enthusiasts can be different depending on where they are on the planet.
Your new strategy must be rapidly deployed and above all perceived by your customers. Présence can help you to steer the customer experience and ensure its application through the intervention of our mystery shoppers specialising in luxury goods.
New perspectives for a reinvention of customer experience in the luxury industry
Therefore Customer experience in luxury rhymes with quality, precision and meticulousness. Haute Couture, designer clothes and shoes, luxury accessories but also prestigious real estate or top-of-the-range travel have not said their last word. The commercial approach must take into account current changes, maximising the customer experience in luxury. The high-end sector faces a challenge, but it can also be an opportunity.
A specialised CX agency can support you throughout your evaluation and diagnosis process to suggest the appropriate levers for improvement. Depending on your needs, their innovative solutions can take various forms: customer satisfaction studies, audits, or even visits from mystery shoppers specialising in luxury goods, etc… They put their expertise at your service to offer you the appropriate tools for the development of your business.