Harsh Shah, Co-Founder, Fynd
Fynd is a unique fashion e-Commerce portal that brings the latest in store fashion online. At Fynd, Harsh brings his valuable experience in technology and entrepreneurship to the table and oversees the supply side of operations, including managing partnering brands and stores.
It has been a while since online retail took the world by storm. While it is engulfing the market with a plethora of products in different segments, Luxury brands took eons to warm up to it. Due to the fear of losing their exclusivity, several luxury brands were reluctant to sell their products online. Also, the personal touch with which luxury brands deal with their clients along and the hefty price tags acted as a detriment for people to purchase goods online. Most high-end brands were under the belief that entering the e-commerce world would result in cutting down on their margins and giving away the product sat heavy discounts.
The customers, too, don’t cut a different picture. An apprehensive lot, they disliked the idea of spending a lump sum on an e-commerce site to purchase a Burberry handbag or a Hermes scarf without first experiencing the item in a brick-and-mortar store or talking to the salesperson face-to-face. These items, after all, cost a bomb, and it was not worth to go through the hassles of a cancelled order or a damaged delivery, especially in these cases.
"The best way for luxury retailers to handle consumers is to make their online and brick and mortar experiences merge together, offering exceptional customer experiences"
However, a gradual shift was witnessed in the attitudes and purchasing behaviour of consumers, specifically the millennial generation. Being highly tech-savvy, with an awareness of global fashion, equipped with high disposable incomes, they could afford to go the online way even when it came to high-end goods. Millennials showed an inclination to experiment with the online platform and luxury products, which often leads tothe luxury brands hoping onto the e-commerce bandwagon and accommodating the demands of a younger, highly diverse and tech-loving clientele.
The major challenge witnessed by luxury brands has been to replicate the same high-end experiences they offer in-store on the digital medium. This is where omnichannel comes in.
Marrying in store and online luxury & premium brands are learning the importance of omnichannel presence
A designer lehenga isn’t something you’re necessarily going to want to click-and-collect unless you feel and try the same but with the Millennials turning to e-commerce almost as a default purchase medium, the click-and-buy world cannot be ignored much longer. But, a luxury brand will definitely face problems trying to recreate the offline experience in the online world and cater to their discerning buyers. In order to compensate for the fancy showrooms and superlative on-point sales service, luxury brands coming online need to go out of their way in customer services and make use of live chat, reservations, quicker delivery, free shipping/returns, additional security, call back and other options to please their customers.
Zara-A case study
The Spain based clothing and accessories brand and the mainstay of Inditex group, the world’s largest apparel retailer, manage upto 20 clothing collections a year. The brand is known for its zero advertising policy and prefers to invest its revenues in opening new stores. However, considering the increasing clout of online transactions and prior research by consumers, it launched its online boutique in 2010 and have since then followed a very aggressive digital strategy for their mobile app and website. Any user who likes a Zara product can block it on the website and pick it up from the nearest store as and when feasible. With Zara’s legendary ‘one week to store’ product cycle compared to a six-month industry average, the chances of a user not finding the desired item in a store are almost negligible. Furthermore, such a policy also allows every user to have the ‘Zara brand store experience’, and also promotes spontaneous in store purchases as well. It also introduced RFID technology in its stores in 2014, which allowed it to fasten its inventory audit process by detecting radio signals from RFID tags in clothes which were sold. The RFID tag immediately informs the stockroom when an item is sold for it to be replaced, as well as eases the process of locating an item that is not on the shelf. Due to its sound technical innovations and their seamless amalgamation in its production, manufacturing and marketing cycles, Zara is considered one of the most successful omnichannel retailers to have successfully combined the real and the virtual world of commerce.
The best way for luxury retailers to handle consumers is to make their online and brick-and-mortar experiences merge together, offering exceptional customer experiences. Luxury brands should try and harness the power of both online and offline channels to create a stronger shopping experience. Whether online or in-store, millennials seek customer centric experiences that make them feel wanted and valued. McKinsey & Company had predicted that the sale of luxury goods online will increase threefold in the next 10 years and that by 2025, the total luxury sales online will shoot up to 18 percent. For this to happen, the luxury brands that embrace an omnichannel approach should look for user friendly services and invest in mobile optimized websites that offer impeccable experiences to customers across all channels and devices. They also need to plan immensely and learn customers ‘likes and dislikes. They are required to rise to the challenge and embrace the power of omnichannel marketing to increase sales in a way that enables customers to buy luxury products online without having to worry about the repercussions of a transaction gone wrong.