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Luxury: The new assets of the customer experience

5 ways to redefine your omnichannel shopping experience

For years, in-store has been the only way to showcase a high-end brand experience. When a designer piece was not available, few sales advisors would suggest buying it online. Then the pandemic arrived.

As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, some stores were unable to conduct business for months at a time. Online sales and click & collect were quickly adopted by consumers for everyday essentials, pushing many retailers to expand their horizons. Meanwhile, the sales staff of some luxury houses decided to pick up the phone and call their beloved customers to present new collections, offer video demonstrations, and even finalise the order via the website, thanks to assisted navigation or  an “order on behalf” feature.

Today, this digital omnichannel experience tends to be the norm. Sales associates use tablets to recommend the right product to the right person (based on previous purchases), find the product in other colors or sizes, show videos, and finalise the transaction (endless aisle approach).

So what have luxury brands learned in managing the pandemic? Digital interfaces do not compete with the store. In fact, they push its limits. That’s why the omnichannel culture is currently making a remarkable breakthrough in the luxury sector. In fact, these brands could even become leaders in this new shopping experience. However, for this to happen, several conditions have to be met.

Merge P&L

The reunification of profit and loss accounts (P&L) is the first step to unlocking the potential of omnichannel.

The post pandemic period has seen customers back in store but with new expectations. For example, in-store pick up is the new must-have; starting a wishlist online, only to end up in store is an expected service. This new consumer agility removes previous barriers and therefore must be matched by a robust and unified view of the customer journey. At the same time, in-store sales associates must be rewarded for online sales.

Merging P&L is therefore the first step towards uniting these channels from a financial perspective. In addition, brands may also need to redefine the role of the in-store advisor and re-invent the entire sales process. Tracking actions on social platforms, such as WhatsApp, to engage in direct conversations with customers is a way to understand and prove the efficiency of a smooth, frictionless experience.

Harmonise orders and inventory

In a business model dominated by the concept of scarcity, a unified view of dispersed inventories is essential to the customer experience. Satisfying a customer who is looking for a certain dress, in a specific size and color, requires knowing in real-time if that product is available. But luxury brands are held to an even higher service and must go even further to satisfy the most complex delivery scenarios, such as click & collect, ship from store, dropshipping, and more. In addition, customers expect to be updated on the order status.

This complex orchestration requires the power of an Order Management System (OMS), which can not only manage these issues but also respond to environmental issues, like shortening shipping routes to reduce the carbon footprint of a product and proactively managing delays.  

This level of service is especially important to younger consumers – which is a critical market for luxury brands since millennials and  generation Z shoppers are expected to represent 70% of luxury purchases by 2025. This is a powerful motivation for the omnichannel transformation of the sector and a 360-degree view of the customer.

Capitalise on customer knowledge

Luxury brands have a historic lead in customer relations. Typically speaking, each customer is linked to a specific sales advisor and customer preferences were stored on customer master records. Knowledge that was once scattered is now gathered in omnichannel customer data platforms. The customer, whether loyal or just passing through, appreciates being recognised and understood as soon as he or she walks through the store door.

But while luxury brands have always been at the forefront of personalised services, they have been slower to exploit their customer knowledge to improve the omnichannel brand experience. Unlike more accessible brands, luxury houses tend to be late in using AI to improve the accuracy of personalised recommendations. Today, by using a mix of technology and human intelligence, it is possible to further enhance the customer relationship.

Metaverse and virtual stores

Luxury brands have superior customer knowledge – and that knowledge is a powerful asset. It enriches the customer journey, even if the highlight is still the in-store visit. Even though shoppers have returned to physical stores en masse after the crisis, brands cannot fall into the trap of thinking omnichannel is simply a matter of connecting digital experience platforms and stores.

The metaverse must be recognised as a new channel. No doubt we will see luxury brands soon conquer these virtual worlds faster than any other brands. This is partly due to their late entrance and success in web 2.0. They realise they can’t afford not to shine when it comes to web 3.0.

In fact, some have already gained a foothold in the virtual worlds of the metaverse, succeeding in creating the event and arousing desire. Dolce & Gabanna, Burberry, and Gucci have effectively launched their first NFT haute couture pieces. Meanwhile, Balenciaga has even announced the creation of a business unit dedicated to the metaverse.

Future virtual worlds is already a reality. Capgemini is working on the creation of an ultra-personalised virtual showroom, where each customer will be presented with a personalised selection according to their purchase history and wishes.

That said, the metaverse will not replace the in-store experience, especially when it comes to luxury brands. Rather, digital innovation invites the store to reinvent itself; it would not be a surprise to see metaverse corners appearing in some stores in the near future.

A reinvented customer experience

It would be naive to think of the 3.0 customer experience as only digital. In reality, it is a journey of excellence made up of multiple stages: visit and re-visit; quality of the recommendation; right on-time order receipt; ease of return process. The future belongs to companies that see digital as an opportunity to improve their fundamentals, from logistics to customer service, including after-sales and repair. Omnichannel is defined as the coordination of all these touchpoints, in the service of active loyalty and reinvented customer care.

Most luxury brands have prospered in their digital transformation, while defending their values and specificities. They have embraced all omnichannel best practices without compromising the high-end experience. In that respect, click & collect is not just a delivery method – it is the starting point of a new ceremony: welcoming customers as soon as they pass the door and offering an exclusive discovery session of the product bought online. Every moment spent with a luxury brand must be memorable. This is what they have built their reputation on and what will continue to distinguish them from all other players.

Learn more

Discover how we can help change consumer demands to drive digital transformation.

Customers’ rising expectations for convenience and immediacy across channels means retailers must adopt an omnichannel strategy that allows any product to be purchased from anywhere, at any time, by any customer – safely and sustainably.

For brands and retailers, evolving consumer behaviors and expectations are impacting every aspect of the business.

Meet our experts

Xaviere Tallent

Business strategist Europe at Capgemini
I’m a Digital Pioneer and I believe that successful digital transformation is contingent with data driven obsession. I understand that innovation and having an innovative mindset is critical for brands – yet it must make sense and drive excellence and value into the omnichannel experience. For over 15 years I have been helping enterprises with their digital commerce challenges – ensuring they increase their business performance and customer satisfaction. In this perspective, the quest for profitability is at the heart of our shared mission.

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