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GUEST OPINION Luxury brands and retailers embrace the smartphone in race for omni-channel success

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Consumers of luxury-brands have increasingly complicated and critical demands when it comes to engaging with retailers in an omni-channel environment – yet many luxury brand marketeers are failing to adequately respond to this change and still view mobile as a separate channel rather than in a seamless, omni-channel environment. Omid Rezvani, Director of Mobile Commerce Solutions at eCommera discusses the challenges for luxury retailers.

Many luxury brand retailers have already begun adopting sophisticated e-commerce platforms that cater for increasing m-commerce and which provide key information on business performance to leverage increased sales.

For the consumer enjoying a higher spending power, the inclusion of m-commerce is a natural extension of online retailing, as is a dynamic in-store environment that helps reinforce brand value.

Luxury marketers are being compelled to devise more sophisticated ways of interacting with their clients, who have demonstrated an increasing trend towards spending larger amounts through their smartphones while on the go.

Social media has become one of new key differentiators for many firms, with more marketing executives planning to bolster their online presence to promote goods and to engage with fans and followers in particular.

According to a recent survey conducted by Worldwide Business Research and ShopIgniter, some 85% of 130 luxury marketing executives planned to increase their digital marketing spend through 2013. Social media was a particular area of focus, with some 72% increasing spending in that area specifically.

Of course the top names for focus are those you might expect; Facebook is currently viewed by many as the number-one social platform with which to invest time and money with some 95% of luxury marketers saying they were actively engaging customers there.

Twitter was the next most popular platform, followed by Pinterest – a relative newcomer to the market but one that has seen rapid popularity. YouTube and traditional e-commerce sites were still popular places to engage consumers with. YouTube still attracts around 59% of luxury brand marketers, who are actively engaging customers with video and links.

Interaction with consumers in the mobile marketplace was found to be lower than expected and is still an area where luxury marketers need to focus. Many executives are not using mobile to its full potential, considering it a secondary channel, rather than viewing it as one part of an omni-channel retail environment.

Offering high-quality and dynamic content through a mobile device presents a particular challenge for luxury goods marketers and only 35% said they used mobile apps, and only 26% were making use of m-commerce.

The way in which marketers interacted with sites has remained consistent with 81% using them to post product imagery and 75% using video to entice ‘fans’ and ‘followers’.

Turning ‘fans’ into customers takes something more however and those firms that do not follow up the popularity they gain through hard work will not convert the ‘follower’ into a customer.

Taking brands online is no longer optional and firms need to embrace the omni-channel environment with vigour to survive. This requires a dynamic approach to customer engagement and in optimising content and services.

Many firms operating in multichannel e-commerce are now providing increasingly supportive commerce platforms to help marketers get to grips with the increasing demand.

Functionally rich retail decision tools help better connect retailers to the need of their consumers and allows them to gather and collate the right data, which can then be used to targeted and drive useful insight to increase sales.

Understanding the relationships between all of the factors that affect business performance, while providing customers with a consistent, convenient and pleasurable shopping experience is critical to success and marketers need to get used to extending their digital commerce platform across multiple sales channels.

eCommera’s DynamicAction is one tool that has become increasingly popular as it allows retailers, for the first time, to systematically prioritise their e-commerce resources according to the actions that will make the biggest difference to performance. Unlike web analytics software, which only focuses on the basic site, DynamicAction uniquely consolidates data drawn from across the business to allow e-commerce teams to diagnose the drivers of performance.

This knowledge is essential when positioning internal resources to capture optimal trading actions and boost sales.

Over the next few years, the luxury retail landscape stands to be reshaped by mobile.

Those marketers who outpace their competitors, will be those who are best positioned and are willing to adopt an omni-channel approach to promoting luxury goods.

Utilising the right kind of solution will be critical in providing a solid basis from which to work. Pioneering retail decision applications will be a key component of that.

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