Losing the Personalised Touch: Why In-Store Luxury Experiences Need to Translate Online


Charlotte Wooding | November 30, 2016

When it comes to convenience, online shopping beats bricks and mortar hands down. But it’s a different matter when it comes to personalisation.

Offering a personal service is the cornerstone of a luxury experience. In-store, you can expect glossy changing rooms and a glass of champagne while a knowledgeable salesperson guides you through every step of your visit. So online, you’d expect the same treatment.

But that’s where brands are falling short. They’re failing to translate these tailor-made experiences to online – often being shouldered into the same playing field as other high-street retailers. And it’s quite clear to see where they’re going wrong.

According to Salesfloor’s 2016 Omnichannel study, 58% of consumers feel that online shopping lacks personalised attention. And with 87% of purchases influenced by interactions with a salesperson, replicating this experience online will ultimately impact sales.

"For luxury brands looking to flourish, online sales are set to triple in the next decade"

For luxury brands looking to flourish, consider this – online sales are set to triple in the next decade (McKinsey & Co). By 2025, the online share of total luxury sales is predicted to be 18%, and a whopping £70 billion annually. As a result, a personalised digital presence will not simply be a consideration, but an absolute requirement. High-end brands that turn a blind eye to this will only risk reducing their slice of the profit pie.

It’s no secret that the in-store experience is only part of the story when it comes to personalisation. Forward thinking brands like Burberry use clever personalisation to translate the experience of quality across channels – allowing consumers to customise products and even monograms online – in order to replicate the in-store experience. Not only are Burberry embracing ecommerce, they’re also using the knowledge and insights gained digitally to engage and relate to their customers.

In a world where everything is increasingly experienced through screens, consumers can feel isolated and crave a human touch. It is key for luxury brands to fill this void by blending digital and physical worlds, rather than looking at them in isolation. In doing this, brands can cut through the noise of marketing, build consumer engagement and ultimately drive significant uplift.

"Beauty retailer Sephora is innovating in this space by rolling out an artificial-intelligence-based app"

Beauty retailer Sephora is innovating in this space by rolling out an artificial-intelligence-based app, which is attempting to recreate the in-store experience online. The application uses facial recognition which allows consumers to simply upload a photo in Facebook Messenger while in conversation with the Sephora Visual Artist. It then seamlessly recommends the most compatible shade and products from Sephora’s collection. Meanwhile, British haircare brand John Frieda is focusing on personalisation by using an Instagram algorithm that analyses a user's’ hair colour and social media expressions to generate customised video stories.

In a similar vein, department store Saks’ latest endeavour is an initiative that brings the in-store experience directly to its online shoppers. Through the new online programme, consumers can connect with Saks Associates around the clock, every day of the week, to reap the benefits of its personalised services.

It’s clear that a human element online will be a key differentiator amongst luxury brands as we head into 2017. Whilst the challenges of blending multi-channel are no small feat, the ability to elevate the relationship between brand and consumer provides huge opportunities for luxury brands. As the best examples show, if executed well, the personal touch will drive repeated and deeper engagement.