Image source: LDN Fashion
People only buy expensive things once they’ve done their research online, right? Well according to new findings from research and advisory firm the Luxury Institute, wealthy shoppers still want their shopping experience to be firmly ensconced in the physical world.
As reported by Bloomberg Business, a survey of 1,600 men and women who earn at least $150,000 a year found that the majority prefer to go to shops first, browse items up-close and in person, and receive expert advice from the salesperson. The report goes against the ‘Compare the Market’ myth pervading attitudes in luxury retail – something that has led to retail brands placing less importance on the customer service shoppers receive in-store.
One place where the customer is (still) always right, however, is the traditional department store. Here’s our rundown of the department stores whose forays into new retail technologies are designed to straddle the offline and online worlds with ease – and are championing the kind of multichannel models that will keep affluent shoppers in their ideal comfort zone
Department stores don’t get much more traditional than the Tudor-style enclaves of Liberty. The store was set up in 1875 with just three dedicated staff and a focus on Eastern furnishings. But fast forward to 2015, and the company has been laying the foundations for an omni-channel strategy that it says is both “functional and fun”. Always careful not to alienate its core customer – who appreciates the in-store experience and the brand’s pared-back marketing compared to its competitors – Liberty has nevertheless launched new technologies in line with how people are really shopping.
A traditional loyalty scheme has gone mobile via the Tapestry app, which adds Instagram into the equation of the usual points and perks – you can browse your favourite brands, and save an item when you see something you like into your “Tapestry.” Then, you can see where it’s located in-store. Moreover, when you want to redeem your points, in-store sales associates will scan phones as well as the usual cards. The scheme allows Liberty’s core customer base to choose whether to sync their existing loyalty card with the app, while attracting new customers through its fun take on utility and bespoke perks.
El Corte Inglés, Spain & Portugal
Founded in 1940, Spanish retail powerhouse El Corte Inglés is Europe’s biggest department store group. It is also one of the most traditional, selling luxury designer clothing alongside electronics, furniture, books, cars, real estate and food. Rather than targeting the entire business, the company is using new retail technologies to optimise particular aspects. This month, for example, it announced it will be launching a mobile shopping platform in its Portuguese market with technology company Grability, following the launch in its home market of Spain last December. Focusing on grocery shopping, the app offers El Corte Inglés customers an intuitive mobile shopping experience that, according to the company, has resulted in marked enthusiasm for the new platform and boosted sales.
As Lauren Sherman wrote in her report on the Great American Department Store for Fashionista in April, “the role of department stores is changing, and only those willing to recognise the need to transform will survive”. In an era of struggle, some stores are faring better at moving on from mid-20th century models than others.
Nordstrom, based in Seattle, is spending big on technology, warehouses and acquiring businesses like e-commerce site Trunk Club. At the same time, however, it is putting its reputation for great customer service to good use in the age of e-commerce. It takes risks with brands rather than veering towards the conservative, and ex-Opening Ceremony hire Olivia Kim creates monthly shop-in-shops, dubbed Pop-in @ Nordstrom. Schemes like this show how Nordstrom is capitalising on a younger customer’s desire for newness offline, as well as online.
Reported by Claire Healy