Luxury Goods resellers have already noticed a need for being present in a digital world. The digital revolution has already happened. What’s the next step?
How to make the customer feel special in an on-line world? How not to lose the uniqueness of the offline shopping experience?
These were the questions we were asking ourselves in our last article. To find the answers we decided to carry out research on the top 30 Swiss Watches producers and checked how digital perform on-line.
Content Management Systems
Considering Content Management Systems, technology-wise the market is split between two main solutions: Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and various PHP based frameworks. The first is not a huge surprise since the AEM presence in Switzerland is rather natural due to a specifics of the market and the fact that AEM originally comes from there.
What AEM brings? Why it has a large share of the market?
Having the ability to easily control the content on the sites available worldwide is a must-have. Especially given the fact that sites rather present the offer than sale it. The ease of authoring process can significantly influence the time required for a new product introduction or generally, the content change. Additionally, due to the fact that brands are spread globally, the content must be available in different languages and sometimes may differ across markets. With the ability to integrate translation platforms and mechanisms like AEM’s Multi-Sites-Manager that challenge can be easily addressed.
So, different variations of the given site are possible and easy to implement in AEM. Is it possible to host different sites on a single platform? It is and some of the producers that are a part of a larger group are doing that. There are many possibilities for how to address that, for example by reusing the same components, features but implement a different styling or by introducing additional features for the given site. It all depends on the given case and must be planned accordingly.
Comparing to other large organisations, prestigious brands should be even more careful with the content they publish, due to a potential negative impact it may cause, in case it is inappropriate or if it contains some inaccuracies. Again, working with AEM can mitigate this issue by introducing the concept of Content Approval Workflows that can be tailored to the given organisation needs.
When we switch the context to eCommerce, the situation is a little bit more complicated. Not all the producers/resellers offer full eCommerce experience. That actually sounds consistent with the thesis that was raised in the first article of this series – the customers want to feel special and it is hard to achieve that online. Therefore, the majority of websites of watches producers offers a very limited experience where the customer can rather get familiar with the product than make an online purchase. 22 out of 30 watches producers we reviewed does that. They enrich the brochureware experience by adding additional features like store locator and (from time to time) a simple login features so clients can register their watches or report a stolen ones.
So, at the end of the day, the customer is asked to visit the offline boutique to make a purchase. How to solve the problem out without being fully digital in eCommerce? How to leverage online customer experience?
By using technology in the right way.
Being innovative is not simple nowadays, it requires an unconventional way of thinking, especially in luxury goods where customers got used to an extremely high level of service in offline stores. How to make an online experience closer to the offline one? Let’s consider a few ideas that may help us here.
Chatbots are getting more and more popular across all different kinds of pages. Automated to some extent can optimise the amount of time needed to take care of all the page visitors and on the other hand, can support the customers by answering their questions and providing recommendations. Chatbot combined with a contextualized FAQ leverages an online experience that becomes closer to the “real one”.
Augmented Reality to see a watch on a wrist
It is hard to imagine what the given watch will look like on your wrist. That is a real challenge and actually, it is hard to even think about the possible workarounds. Unless we use the Augmented Reality – using your mobile with the camera on as something that visualizes a given watch on a real wrist may answer many questions, like: is not 40mm size going to be too large for my hand? Or does it match my favourite shirt? Or how does it correspond to my skin tone? Again, like the client were in the real, offline store and again, that may help the producers to evolve to the full eCommerce flow.
At home consultations and a wishlist composition
Is there a compromise between online and offline experience? Is there a chance to combine these two, completely different purchase models? Again, the answer is yes and some luxury brands have already done that. Chanel and Net-a-porter implemented a feature where the customer can select a set of products that is interesting for him and request a visit of a consultant who will bring the selected products. Would not that work for luxury watches?
Luxury goods are special by the definition. Personalization can take it to the whole new level. Engraving dedications, experimenting with different colours variations are just simple ideas. Online experience and the potential of Augmented Reality may awake the dormant potential of interactive visualization and convince the customers to go beyond the standards.
On the basis of luxury watches producers/resellers we see that there is still a space for the improvements of the digital experience they offer. The typical buying persona profile is changing and the market must keep it up. There is no other way than the right use of technology that can leverage the overall online experience and convince customers to open the website and order a product online.