For decades, shoppers seeking luxury goods and premier service have turned to boutique stores in the world’s most fashionable cities, from Milan to London, Paris and New York. Beginning in the 20th century, the boutique trend exploded across the retail landscape, changing the way retailers market and sell luxury and personal goods. Discerning shoppers sought out boutiques to access exclusive brands; enjoy personalized, attentive service; and have a deeply satisfying experience that keeps them coming back for more. The full-service, immersive boutique experience continues to be a successful approach for consultative selling as well as for creating an emotional, lasting relationship with the consumer.
The Virtual Boutique
Six decades on the retail industry is going digital. The way high-end brands connect with customers is changing. The classic boutique experience is now being replicated online, using live engagement technologies including two-way high-definition video and online appointment scheduling. Retailers of luxury and personal products are able to give online customers the kind of full-service, personalized shopping experience that sets them apart from ordinary stores. By bringing their boutiques online, retailers can extend the brand experience through time and space, connecting with customers anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Live, high-definition video makes it easy for customers to connect face-to-face with a product expert who can demonstrate a product, discuss and ‘show’ its benefits, and use their knowledge to provide the shopper with personalized recommendations. Online appointment setting allows shoppers to book a private appointment with a product expert at a time most convenient for them. Brands can also replicate one-to-many exclusive events within their virtual boutique environment.
Luxury Brands Are Connecting With Customers Online
In the retail industry, successful brands move fast to gain an edge over competitors. Top luxury brands are using virtual boutiques to build lasting relationships with customers.
For example, Clarins UK, a luxury skincare and cosmetics company, is using high-definition video and appointment scheduling technology to offer customers one-to-one consultations with its beauty coaches. Clarins has created a high-end beauty studio and trained its experienced beauty coaches to provide customized consultations that a customer can request immediately or schedule at their leisure. In addition to one-to-one beauty consultations. Multiple cameras allow the beauty coaches to maintain eye contact with the customer while demonstrating the application of a new hand cream, for example.
Retailers can also offer one-to-many experiences that provide an exclusive opportunity to speak with a beauty influencer, get a first look at a new product, or explore skincare techniques. A marketing campaign can include an exclusive virtual event with an industry influencer who can engage with select customers from the comfort of their living rooms. The high-end, multi-camera set-up enables product specialist and influencers to connect face-to-face with these customers, as well as provide close-up, high-definition shots of products and application techniques. And, interested buyers can connect with an individual sales consultant right from the session for personalized assistance and to place an order.
The Watches of Switzerland Group, a leading luxury watch specialist, is using a virtual boutique to provide personalized consultations, expert guidance, and timepiece inspiration. The Watches of Switzerland Group product specialists use high-definition video, chat and co-browsing technologies to connect with customers face-to-face, and provide a live, detailed look at luxury brands like Rolex, Cartier, and TAG Heuer. The Watches of Switzerland Group’s virtual boutique is open seven days-a-week and customers in need of services can be immediately connected to an available expert or schedule a session at a time that is convenient.
Virtual Boutiques Bring the Luxury Shopping Experience to Online Customers
The innovative virtual boutiques that Clarins UK and the Watches of Switzerland Group have created are making emotional connections, providing shoppers with unique and personal service, and bringing the luxury experience to customers in the comfort of their own homes. Shoppers can experience luxury products and receive service that is completely tailored to their unique needs, all at a time and place that is convenient to them. As more luxury brands build immersive online experiences, look for more innovation in virtual boutiques that will thrill shoppers and build the strong brand loyalty that all retailers strive to achieve.
Joseph Noonan is the CEO of Vee24, a flexible, enterprise-grade platform purpose-built for omnichannel customer engagement.
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