- Having crossed $100M in gross sales, fashion icon Rebecca Minkoff sells online in over 100 countries and 70 currencies
- At $13.2M a year, British luxury brand Holland Cooper’s O2O strategy drives 60% of sales through its Shopify Plus website
- LeSportsac’s personalization has improved sales by 12%, units per order by 37%, and AOV by 20%
Earlier this year, McKinsey & Company revealed that nearly 80% of luxury sales were “digitally influenced” and that high-end spending online is expected to more than triple to €74 billion (87 billion USD) by 2025.
Likewise, Bain & Company reported that luxury ecommerce sales increased 24% in 2017.
Still — as the above chart makes clear — the overall market share of luxury ecommerce pales in comparison to offline sales. The reason: high-end brands often struggle to translate the luxury in-store experience to the online world — but it’s not impossible.
Here’s a look at how 18 luxury fashion ecommerce brands are building online and what your businesses can learn from them …
- Selling with Storytelling
- Offering a Luxury Experience
- Paying Attention to Detail
- Personalizing in Every Language
- Designing Designer Delivery Services
- Emphasizing Scarcity and Exclusivity
Insights for today and tomorrow
Interested in an executive view of ecommerce fashion? Then download The Fashion and Apparel Industry Report.
1. Selling with Storytelling
Luxury fashion and lifestyle houses have long been associated with exclusivity, seducing consumers with the promise of belonging to an elite circle if they spend thousands from a storied brand with an illustrious past.
From the second a shopper sets foot in a high-end store, they are …
- Enveloped in an air of opulence, heritage, and legacy
- Waited on by attentive and knowledgeable salespeople
- Invited to touch and feel materials to understand what makes these products worthy of their price tags
Alas, most luxury labels have struggled to translate that tactile experience to a digital setting. By comparison, tech-savvy fashion brands are experts at finding new ways to tell their stories and tap into consumers’ emotions.
Being born online didn’t stop high-end menswear brand ORO Los Angeles from doing exactly that.
For example, there’s a certain thrill that accompanies an online order arriving at your doorstep and ORO taps into that by triggering its target customers’ imagination.
Detailing their overall strategy Kevin Dao, ORO’s co-founder and CEO, explains: “We want them to imagine being the man in every picture. To imagine us being their stylist. To imagine, ‘That could be me wearing those clothes.’”
Burberry is another exception, striking a balance between exclusivity and accessibility by pushing …
French luxury house Louis Vuitton leverages legacy with a section of its website dedicated to its history, including a peek into the brand’s archives, while fashion week highlights and a shoppable lookbook make it easy for consumers to move from browsing to buying.
Lastly, men’s luxury fashion retailer Ledbury uses full-screen video, mobile optimization, and rich visuals to tell its story without sacrificing ease-of-use:
“Using the Shopify Plus themes,” says Paul Watson, co-founder at Ledbury, “has allowed us to quickly iterate on design layouts and functionality with our development partners at Maui New York. The result is a superb user experience to our customers while streamlining our operational processes on the back-end.”
2. Offering a Luxury Experience
Excellent customer service is the cornerstone of every luxury in-store experience.
Regular patrons are not only greeted by name but also presented with recommendations based on past purchases by well-versed sales associates who are only too happy to answer questions and offer styling advice.
Creating this experience online can be challenging, which is why British luxury brand Holland Cooper — with a reported annual revenue of £10 million (13.2 million USD) — revolves around online-to-offline commerce.
This approach has enabled Holland Cooper to funnel 60% of sales through their Shopify Plus website.
As another way to bridge O2O, Burberry offers free standard shipping and returns, in-store pickups, and complimentary gift packaging (a gold-lined box tied with a colored ribbon).
Gift wrapping in ecommerce — for both luxury products as well as the holiday season and special events — is a proven method to increase average order value.
Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton offers complimentary delivery or in-store collection, as well as same-day delivery to select New York zip codes for $40. Customers can contact support specialists by phone, email, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger.
Gucci follows suit, giving customers the option to speak to a support agent — though Gucci calls them “online client assistants” — by phone and email, or via live chat 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday. A “May we help?” button is displayed prominently below the “Add to Shopping Bag” CTA on every product page.
Luxury e-tailers Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter take it a step further, offering premium assistance in select cities to their top customers, known as EIPs (or extremely important people), including at-home shopping consultations and a “You try, we wait” delivery service.
Non-EIPs can avail 24/7 customer care or fashion consultation by phone, email, or live chat.
In addition, Mr Porter’s online accounts automatically sync with carts and wish lists on its app for seamless on-the-go shopping.
But customers don’t have to request VIP treatment to receive it.
Shopify Plus’ exclusive automation tool, Flow, makes it easy to identify and segment high-value shoppers so your customer service team can pay special attention to them, even sending handwritten notes to big spenders.
In fact, you can download that workflow, along with 13 others, here: Ecommerce Automation Software: 14 Shopify Flow Workflow Templates.
3. Paying Attention to Detail
The devil is in the details when it comes to differentiating luxury ecommerce from their more affordable counterparts.
While the likes of H&M and Zara keep their product pages short and sweet, high-end brands know they need to be more descriptive when prospective customers can’t experience their offering in advance.
ORO LA, for example, uses bullet points to list its products’ features, even calling out the fact that its shoes run bigger and recommending that customers order one size down.
Online boutique marketplace Farfetch includes plenty of flat and lifestyle shots, as well as measurements for both the product and the model, to give browsers a better idea of an item’s size and fit.
Mr Porter provides witty “editors’ notes” for each of its products, in addition to helpful information on size, fit, and care instructions.
Net-a-Porter raises the stakes and includes links in the product description to shop the items it’s been styled with — cross-selling just like an in-store sales associate would.
4. Personalizing in Every Language
Luxury shoppers are used to getting special, individualized treatment. Thanks to innovations such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, they expect the same personalized experience online.
Net-a-Porter asks new customers to select their favorite designers and styles upon creating an account to ensure they only receive email updates and personalized recommendations about items they’re interested in.
High-end retailer Nordstrom has invested heavily in ecommerce to stay competitive and cater to consumers’ changing tastes. And it’s paid off — online represented 30% of the retailer’s total sales in 2017.
Naturally, its website and app offer detailed reviews, helpful information about sizing, along with fit and styling suggestions. But it steps up the shopping experience by offering consumers the option to sort products “just for you” after taking a short quiz.
However, in an increasingly global ecommerce market, can those same principles of personalization also be applied?
On Shopify Plus, Rebecca Minkoff personalizes its global brand first with IP geolocation that updates currencies automatically in more than 100 countries and over 70 currencies. In addition, shoppers can select their own preferred location and currency:
For more on multi-currency and local payment methods …
Take a look at two of the exciting product announcements we made earlier this year at Shopify Unite:
In real-time, customer behavior data is funneled to LeSportsac’s marketing, merchandising, and design teams.
“That ability to create personalized recommendations, follow customer history, create A/B tests, and really make smart business decisions based on what our customer behavior is has been a joy for us,” says Berly Isaak, LeSportsac’s head of global marketing.
LeSportsac’s AI personalization has improved sales by 12% since its overhaul, this includes lifting units per order by 37%, average order value by 20%, and click-through from email by 30,000 per month.
5. Designing Designer Delivery Services
With Amazon, Walmart, and Target offering same-day delivery in certain markets, it was only a matter of time before high-end ecommerce stores put their own twist on fast fulfillment.
Farfetch has teamed up with select brand and boutique partners in 12 cities — including Dubai, Los Angeles, London, Milan, New York and Paris — on a service dubbed F90. The service delivers orders from store to door in 90 minutes or less. Delivery costs vary by city, but the fee is refunded in full if the order doesn’t arrive in time.
Meanwhile, luxury retail chain Matches Fashion — which represents around 450 established and new designers — offers 90-minute delivery to select London postcodes, free 2-3 day international shipping, as well as an option that allows shoppers to choose a specific time and date for delivery up to seven days in advance.
In a futuristic display of multi-channel ecommerce and designer delivery, Jordan Brand recently partnered with Snapchat and Shopify to launch its latest sneakers through augmented reality (AR) codes that led to an exclusive in-app buying experience.
The entire collection sold out in minutes and the shoes arrived almost instantly, delivered the same day through local fulfillment centers operated by Darkstore.
6. Emphasizing Scarcity and Exclusivity
Traditional notions of luxury and exclusivity are threatened today, thanks to limited-edition pieces and one-off collaborative projects. Streetwear brand Supreme, for instance, has teamed up with everyone from Louis Vuitton and Lacoste to The North Face and Nike, causing a global fashion frenzy every time it announces a new drop.
Now, high-end brands are attempting to create that same sense of urgency online by letting shoppers know if a particular piece they’re looking at is about to sell out.
On the fence about a best-selling bag on Fendi? Perhaps knowing that it’s the last one available (and that 155 other shoppers are currently considering it, too) will push you to purchase.
Similarly, vintage and antique marketplace Ruby Lane alerts customers to how many shoppers have a particular item in their cart or on their wish list.
When demand outweighs supply, an item becomes even more exclusive, which means that whoever gets their hands on it instantly feels as though they’re part of a private club.
That was the thought process behind a particular L’Occitane offer in 2017. The beauty brand used exclusivity to drive social sales by offering a Mother’s Day gift collection on Facebook that couldn’t be purchased on its ecommerce site.
Likewise, luxury handbag maker Hammitt offers a selection of online-exclusive limited-edition accessories to encourage shoppers to regularly visit its website and purchase items they can’t find anywhere else.
During Black Friday Cyber Monday, Rebecca Minkoff took a different tact, encouraging shoppers to spend more by automating free gifts once their shopping cart exceeded a certain amount.
Learning from Luxury Fashion Ecommerce
The line between luxury and low-priced has never been as blurred as it is today, with both sides borrowing strategies honed by the other — and nowhere is this more apparent than ecommerce.
Convenience might be the main reason why consumers choose to shop online instead of at a brick-and-mortar store, but that doesn’t mean that sellers can’t wow them with a white-glove experience.
Most ecommerce businesses already have a leg up on luxury, given the latter’s reluctance to sell online until recently.
As outlined above, there are plenty of experiential pointers that you can take from top brands to better engage and excite consumers — and keep them coming back for more.
About the Author
Lyndsay McGregor is the Content Manager at xSellco where she writes about all things ecommerce. In a past life, she was an award-winning B2B journalist, covering the retail and fashion industries, sustainability and technology.