Just four years ago, 68 percent of "top luxury brands" did not sell their products online, according to the Retail Bulletin. Now, Chanel and Versace are the only ones who don't. The thinking had been, among this elite group of clothing makers, that e-commerce would devalue the brands, which are so carefully cultivated to make the exorbitantly high price tags that come with the labels feel worth it to consumers. But companies are slow to figure out how to make their sites great. Too often, they're concerned with the image, rather than the technology, resulting in online shopping experiences that are pretty but leave people feeling empty, possibly cheated.
Some tips for luxury fashion companies who have online stores:
1. Enough with the videos already! Lots of brands have online videos, and so often they're just a model writhing to dark music and dim lighting, her clothes partially coming off as she wriggles, cut to a shot of a twitching crow, and two minutes of your life just went by. Retail Bulletin notes that "very often this content lacks contextual relevance and does little to support the transactional experience." Do the videos actually make you want to buy the clothes? Are you going out of your way to actually watch them? Or do you just want to see a purse tree with hover-over functionality and get to the business? If designers are so intent on doing things with models wiggling around in their clothes to music, why not hire them for in-store installations? That would certainly draw people in.
2. Have style consultants handy. Part of the thrill of shopping at a really fancy store is that sales associates dote on you and run all around fetching what you need until you find what you want. Until programmers figure out how to serve complimentary Champagne and Figi water through a screen, luxury companies should offer fabulous styling advice to online customers.
3. No obnoxious verbiage. Retail Bulletin explains:
There can be a tendency with luxury e-tailers to use language such as ‘explore the brand’ and ‘philanthropy’, which may well be on-brand messaging, but mean little to customers. If you were a customer simply looking for product information and were faced with bulky language like this, then the likelihood is that you would jump ship and source the product elsewhere. Of course, retailers don’t have to be completely utilitarian in their choice of words, but exercise a level of sensibility; especially when these words serve as function keys.
Right, because in the store, no one's asking shoppers if they'd like a side of philanthropy with their $1,200 croc wallet.
Comment: Luxury fashion retailers: functionality or flash? [Retail Bulletin]