Questions by Awa Ouattara, Editor HORIZONT Specials
1. How can stationary retailers create premium shopping experiences?
Rupert Wild: I think creating premium shopping experiences in stationary retail is a must in order to differentiate oneself from the 24/7 brand availability of online shops. This is especially true for luxury and premium products: the shopping experience is a big part of the promise of quality and really helps consumers to identify with these brands. Success stories show that stationary retailers can find the right strategy in digital marketing: personalization and uniqueness are the driving force behind sales success - in other words, "uniqueness sells".
Personalization here means above all (re)reflecting on core elements that make up a premium shopping experience - luxury is after all also a people-business, in which face-to-face communication and the personal relationship between customers and sale staff is of great importance. Those who feel understood and valued by their counterparts can also build a trust relationship with the brand and its representatives. Genuine customer care and service should go hand in hand in premium stores. Take for example luxury watches: having inside the store a small workshop, that can carry out small reparations on the spot, can give to the clients a significant added value and can go a long way, as well as offering stylish “temporary” replacement wristwatches to the customer, while he/she is waiting for his/her watch to be repaired.
The challenge for agencies is to effectively address both existing customers as well as new potential buyers.
2. Are there industries or companies out there, that truly understand and master the premium shopping experience?
In the watches- and luxury sectors there are several forward-thinking brands, as the above mentioned example shows. But also in the beauty- and fashion industry there are interesting formats. I am thinking for example of Bobbi-Brown, which organizes exclusive events and make-up sessions, where it clients can enjoy beauty tips from the company´s founder herself. Or in the fashion sector, of Dolce & Gabbana which no longer only brings its exclusive shows to the big international catwalks, but also directly to its customers – organizing small, refined events during fashion weeks all around the world. Or of Edelstreetwear, which during exclusive product presentations offers the possibility to choose between different designs and get your sneakers personalized, turning them into special, unique pieces.
So I think it is clear that there are no limits to the imagination!
2. What role does the link with digital technology play, what role does direct customer relations play?
Our digital luxury studies have shown that digitalization has inexorably made its way also into the luxury segment. Online channels are therefore an important source of information also for luxury customers and open the door to a personalized (and personal) conversation.
Studies, however, have also shown us that stationary retail continues to play an important role among "digital natives" too – as a place where to experience something special and to create personal client´s relations.
Whether this can be supported and strengthened by new forms of community building, such as whatsapp business, is still uncertain. But in the luxury segment digitalization alone is not the answer. A hand-written personal invitation to an exclusive private dinner at a luxury manufacturer, on hand-made embossed paper, personally presented in an elegant envelope, simply convey the idea of something special and makes the client feel extremely valued. This is what luxury customers expect and want. No matter how skillfully programmed your newsletter might be, a simple e-mail simply will never do the trick.