In today’s challenging retail landscape, success will be determined by how well brands target – and serve – consumers.
The luxury sector is no different, and previously it’s suffered from a case of mistaken identity. Their shoppers were often thought to be in the older, and presumably wealthier, age bracket, but there’s been a dramatic shift in demographics. Now, younger buyers – those considered to be Generation Z and Millennials – drive 85 percent of luxury sales growth across the globe. Millennials and Gen Z account for nearly 50 percent of Gucci’s sales, whiule Burberry re-targeted their focus at millennials and delivered a staggering 44.5 percent growth.
The ethics of luxury
With the younger generation becoming a core part of the luxury audience, it’s important to meet this demographic’s expectations around making purchases. Otherwise, brands risk experiencing a ‘luxury drought’, with sales much harder to organically come by.
These Millennial buyers expect a more personalised buying experience, and one that seamlessly integrates both online and offline worlds. Luxury retailers must provide a bespoke, tailored experience for each individual customer. These retailers must also understand that younger shoppers place a huge focus on ethical and sustainable shopping. In 2017, a staggering 235 million items of unwanted clothing were sent to landfill.
Burberry made a decision to burn $40 million worth of stock, rather than selling it at a discount. Though this move was intended to protect the brand’s exclusive status, it instead drew considerable criticism. On the other hand, Gucci’s purpose-driven, environmentally progressive program, Gucci Equilibrium, could help the luxury giant win over consumers, and increase its already impressive 40 percent YOY growth.
Winning customers everyday
Retailers must provide buyers with a seamless experience from start to finish – and this means meeting luxury customers’ exacting standards. Only the retailers that keep pace with new initiatives in Customer Experience and tailored support will survive in a market dominated by digital natives.
They will also help encourage repeat purchases – which are not easy to come for high-ticket brands. Customers sending hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds on one item will expect a flawless buying experience. 24/7 in retail is an imperative – which includes offering a truly round-the-clock service and instant access to an agent that can immediately help a consumer with a query, no matter what that is.
Dynamic phone numbers are just one feature that can help boost web-to-call communications. By assigning these phone numbers to specific product pages and campaigns, calls can be routed to an agent responsible for that particular audience segment. These handlers will be trained to answer queries, which will help increase the conversion rate across the sales funnel, from browsing to the point of purchase – particularly for big-ticket items.
One common issue in luxury retail is when stars are spotted in high-end outfits and cause massive sales spikes of a certain dress, or coat. A prime example is Meghan Markle, who sparked a £300m fashion boost with her wardrobe; items that she has been spotted in have become out of stock online in mere minutes. This is where brands can and should capitalise on unexpected sales peaks.
This is where technology can prove to be invaluable. The right tools allow call centre managers to temporarily expand their inbound team, and adapt to call influxes by using resources in the right way. A cloud service provides the perfect solution here – as it can be easily upscaled, or altered, without massive infrastructure changes.
Boosting in-store sales with digital tools
Technology can even help drive physical sales in shops and branches. Increasing support at the back end – including automating call routing, to route queries to the right agents, and automating messaging, to reduce missed sales leads – will help boost profits and free up employees at the front end. This will increase in-store staff availability and enable human workers to focus on what’s important: fostering a human connection with shoppers and providing a luxury buying experience.
Whether it’s online-only or omnichannel, technology will help retail brands espouse luxury values throughout every part of their business and enable couture Customer Experience. This will ultimately help drive sales and keep customers coming back for life.