Luxury brands and retailers lose “a sense of exclusivity” online, study finds

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Wealthy shoppers say luxury brands and retailers lose “a sense of exclusivity” online, potentially hampering their potential for revival from the COVID-19 pandemic, an independent poll has found.

Commissioned by London Dynamics, the study saw 1,000 luxury consumers speak candidly about their experiences in both brick-and-mortar retail and ecommerce.

Shared exclusively with TheIndustry.fashion, the results of the poll found that businesses who have traditionally been reluctant to put investment into their online experience risk losing loyal customers that seek a superior online experience.

75% of high-end shoppers said the quality of a retailer’s website and online experience determines where they will shop. One in three Millennials (36%) said they were making luxury purchases online for the first time during the pandemic.

Shoppers polled are demanding retailers showcase high-end products better (63%), offer an opportunity to try products in a virtual environment (43%), offer online consultation services (38%) and make websites easier to browse and interact with in a mobile environment (35%).

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Commenting on the results, Michael Valdsgaard, Executive Chairman and CEO at London Dynamics, said: “With so many shoppers forced online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge for luxury brands and retailers is how they build an online experience that matches up to the incredible quality of their physical stores.

“When spending thousands of pounds on a single luxury item online, customers will take some persuading. What particularly interested me in the results is the willingness of shoppers to buy luxury items online when the retailer offers the kind of quality experience they come to expect.”

When asked what would cause them to abandon the purchase of luxury goods 60% said not being able to have a realistic and full look at the product, with concerns around spending large amounts online hitting 50% and fears that the product wouldn’t meet their expectations at 45%.

Luxury shoppers report that high quality imagery, the ability to see the product in three dimensions and Augmented Reality are the best initiatives they have seen that would convince them to buy luxury goods online.

Valdsgaard added: “Luxury brands and retailers are rightly proud of their bricks-and-mortar stores, which will always be a huge part of an omnichannel strategy. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to bring their online experience in line with this.

“The results are clear; if retailers provide high quality imagery of the products, in real-life environments empowered by Augmented Reality, shoppers are more than ready to spend.”

Farfetch, Alibaba and Richemont have also recently announced a partnership to “accelerate the digitisation of the luxury industry”, providing luxury labels with the opportunity to elevate their brand awareness, while also significantly expanding their addressable market.

In December 2020, YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group announced it is piloting Digital ID technology across its private label brands in a bid to accelerate circularity in the fashion and luxury sectors.