Luxury Online Retailers Must Deliver a VIP Experience From Storefront to Doorstep
The in-store experience has always been a big part of luxury goods retailing. You can immerse yourself in the elegance of a store’s décor and merchandise, and some retailers create full sensory experiences in their spaces — from signature scents in the air to complimentary beverages in the shopper’s hand.
Even window shopping at a high-end store can still feel special. In 2022, it was reported that every hour during the holiday season, about 7,000 people came to see Macy’s iconic New York City window displays.
Many luxury retailers were slow to join the e-commerce revolution, but the COVID pandemic accelerated that process.
By 2021, the share of luxury retail sales occurring online had grown to 22 percent, up from around 12 percent in 2019 and just 6 percent in 2015, according to research from consulting firms McKinsey & Co. and Bain & Co.
It makes sense for sellers of high-end jewelry, fashion, perfumes and handbags to claim their share of the booming e-commerce marketplace. And in 2022, luxury brands’ sales remained strong while other retail categories lagged.
But the concern remains: How can luxury retailers offer the VIP experience their customers expect when a purchase is being made online rather than at a high-end store?
Retail customers generally have high expectations for quality and service, and even more so when they’re paying luxury prices. It’s essential for e-commerce luxury retailers to deliver on those expectations — from the online storefront to the customer’s doorstep.
Customer satisfaction starts with the retailer’s website. Aesthetically, the site should suggest luxury and sophistication, perhaps including design elements or images from the brand’s brick-and-mortar stores. Functionally, the site should offer customers an easy, convenient and enjoyable experience, from browsing and comparing goods, to placing an order and selecting the delivery mode, to tracking the purchase until the driver arrives at the right place and time. An easy returns process should also be part of a luxury retailer’s online strategy.
If one or more touches in that chain breaks, you’ve hurt or even lost the customer’s trust. And once lost, it can take three times the effort to win it back, especially in the high-stakes world of luxury retail.
Luxury retail is all about bells and whistles, and The Wall Street Journal has reported that warehouse logistics providers are now adding ribbons, hand-signed cards and other flourishes to create a high-end store experience for items shipped to shoppers’ homes.
Crowdsourced delivery platforms are excellent logistics solutions for luxury retailers since items are hand-delivered. Retailers have control over their delivery process and will be able to make it personal, ensuring the luxury experience extends all the way to the customer's doorstep. Working with a network of community-sourced drivers also allows retailers to easily handle unexpected spikes and lulls in demand — in any market, at any time — and offer customers ultrafast same- and next-day delivery.
Leading crowdsourced platforms offer screened drivers, real-time tracking, and photos throughout the delivery process. Furthermore, items can be protected for up to $10,000. Just as importantly, crowdsourced solutions enable luxury retailers to offer a branded delivery experience that impresses customers and builds loyalty.
Offerings can include premium treatment for delicate and perishable items, temperature-controlled vehicles, scheduled delivery so that items will arrive at the perfect time, and special handling and delivery instructions to maximize customer satisfaction. Each delivery has a dedicated driver who personally delivers items door-to-door by safely placing items in his or her car.
E-commerce luxury retailers should never underestimate the value of being able to offer this kind of branded experience — from the storefront to the doorstep. As more luxury retail sales move online, creating a quality e-commerce experience is becoming even more important because it will be many customers’ only experience with a retailer.
Rachel Zarach is business development manager at Roadie, a logistics management and crowdsourced delivery platform with more than 200,000 drivers reaching more than 20,000 U.S. ZIP codes.
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Rachel Zarach is business development manager at Roadie, a logistics management and crowdsourced delivery platform with more than 200,000 drivers reaching more than 20,000 U.S. zip codes.