How to build a luxury brand online

by Matt Kendall

This post originally appeared on Maxwell Scott

Maxwell - Scott is a British born leather makers based in North Yorkshire who stand for impeccable craftsmanship and timeless design. As part of the Maxwell-Scott Broadsheet - a place to discuss business-related subjects with a range of industry experts - they asked us to share our thoughts on how to build a luxury brand online…

How does a brand define itself as luxury online?

MK: Luxury isn’t just on screen! A true luxury brand has considered the entire customer journey and created that premium feel at all steps. No amount of onscreen refinement and gloss will make up for poor packaging or customer service. As the market matures, customers expect high levels of service and that doesn’t differentiate between bricks and clicks!

How important is an artisanal backstory to the brand when it is online? How should brands communicate this narrative?

MK: Absolutely! More than ever customers appreciate brands that have a purpose and story - often two key pillars in a heritage brand - and where better to communicate this than on Social or your own website? As customers become more discerning in their purchasing, the brand story is often a key differentiator. And if products are available on multiple channels telling this story well throughout the entire customer journey could well be the key differentiator.

A good example is Huit Denim - a brand dedicated to bringing denim manufacturing back to Cardigan Bay. They not only tell their story but use their position to continually curate interesting content and keep people engaged with their brand.

What should a luxury ecommerce brand invest in in the early years? And when it is more established?

MK: Doing the basics well may sound the least ambitious thing to do at the outset, but it’s still vital. Is your website fast? Are you capturing emails intelligently and thoughtfully? Is your cookie message as unobtrusive as possible (we’re always shocked in user test sessions or session replays how many people don’t close them. Not ideal if your message is taking up half of the mobile screen). Are you capturing usage data from the off that will help you later?

As a brand becomes more established, using this data helps inform a relevant optimisation strategy. Do you need to add more features to help the customer? How will you know what they might be (the clue is above)? Or do you need to refine what you already have to help them achieve their goals easier?

Where does innovation fit in building a luxury brand online?

MK: Innovation is a funny word - and it would be easy to jump to the obvious topics of AR/VR or voice search. But ultimately, it’s important that any innovation is viewed through the lens of improving the end to end customer experience - not just adding the latest technology with some innovation theatre.
Focused online luxury marketplaces such as Farfetch are now showing what can be done blending bricks and clicks to create customer experiences that mix in-store guidance and delivery with the convenience of shop anywhere such as same-day delivery express in key fashionista cities.  

Zalando has gone as far as creating an in-house innovation hub that experiments with everything from easier packing processes for working staff to deferred payment schemes that have resulted in greater brand loyalty.

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