Global jewellers Annoushka, best known for emotive and tactile 18K Gold jewellery, believes that remaining nimble with digital client servicing will be crucial to businesses in response to the coronavirus.
The brand, which celebrates 10 years this year, has built a portfolio of brick and mortar stores in premium postcodes alongside own brand concessions in London, Hong Kong and China. However, the British brand has been clever to not take its eye off more creative clienteling platforms, which empower its sales staff and allow them to sell to clients in a digital reality.
“With a global pandemic in hand, which has almost entirely frozen travel for a population who account for 60% of luxury sales outside of mainland China, never have our virtual sales platforms been more important to us as a business and for our global clients who may be feeling entirely isolated. Our upcoming campaign will ensure our global clientele know they can access us through a myriad of connected platforms,” cites Annoushka Ducas MBE, Creative Director of Annoushka.
The brands success to date is no doubt a reflection of the innovative and commercial design team driven by Ducas herself, who also successfully co-founded Links Of London in 1990 with her husband and partner John Ayton, which they sold in 2006 to Folli Follie.
However, it’s their confident pioneering attitude to invest in virtual sales platforms that set them apart from competitors; a trend that has seen the likes of luxury fashion behemoths LVMH follow. The brand, which prides itself on its exceptional customer experience, invests heavily in in depth technical jewellery training; knowledge is considered power when you’re selling crafted fine jewellery; and often one of a kind designs.
Seeing an opportunity to extend its in-store experience to the global tech savvy customer, Annoushka, who were also early adopters of Whatsapp and WeChat as sales channels, were the first European jeweller to integrate HERO - a messaging app, which instantly connects online customers to in-store teams via chat, text and video – mimicking the in-store experience in real time. For those thinking this is a faceless experience, think again, HERO also has a “little black book” functionality, connecting a client to the team member who previously worked with them – this is clienteling in the digital realm. Existing clients to date include global giants LVMH, Levi, Lonchamp and Diane von Furstenberg to name a few.
A year from launch Annoushka’s global sales team has accounted for £100,000 worth of sales through HERO alone and the conversion rates say it all; Annoushka reports a 180% conversion increase when clients come through the app. In December 2019 HERO accounted for 11% of the overall online revenue for the month and they predict a continued increase as retail habits shift and customers are increasingly concerned about Corona.
It’s not just apps like HERO that are designed to sell, Annoushka is also reporting an increase in customers connecting with their local Annoushka store via WhatsApp. This is most apparent, but not entirely unexpected in the Bicester Village store, a destination dominated by Chinese and Korean shoppers, where Annoushka report that “mail order” (a colloquialism for all sales taken through WhatsApp and WeChat) have accounted for 16% of overall sales over the last year, peaking last month (February 2020) to a record 22% - a direct reflection of lower footfall in-store due to coronavirus.
“My jewellery is often described as talismanic, defined as magical and lucky – which to me doesn’t seem like a bad thing right now. When I design, my aim is to always make someone smile. If there are customers who still want to shop and that brings them a little bit of joy at an awful time, then we’ll continue to go above and beyond to make that a special, fine tuned experience. We want our customers to know that in spite of the terrible global situation and whatever the future may hold, we’re on hand,” concludes Ducas.