Walpole Insight | Seeking Harmony – Luxury Heritage Meets Digital Innovation with LiveArea

Lockdown closures, the absence of international tourism, and less-than-luxurious, mask-laden shopping experiences have compiled to alter the landscape of luxury retail. Luxury is shifting to digital at speed. Iconic labels must emulate the premium experiences they’ve created in-store, online. If they are to appeal to the younger buyers of today and the future, brands must fully embrace digital. Retail networks must be redesigned, collections presented in new ways and customer engagement reconsidered. So, how can brands redesign luxury shopping for new digital channels? Where are the opportunities now and in the future? And what organisational changes must brands make to become truly consumer-centric? These were the questions discussed at our latest online Skills Session.

Last Friday, LiveArea’s Benoit Soucaret and Marcel Borlin from Harvey Nichols joined Walpole’s Brands of Tomorrow co-chair Chris Downham to explore how luxury brands are embracing these challenges. Benoit shared insights into the latest tools, technologies and trends brands are using to engage with modern clientele, plus the panel looked at how brands can quickly iterate, trial and implement innovative online and in-store experiences.

With the breathtaking pace of change in retail and digital across the past 14 months, questions around how to elevate the allure, heritage and storytelling of luxury brands in engaging ways that build brand value have become pivotal. Today’s luxury e-commerce represents nothing less than a transformation in the way we think about what we deliver for customers — and as much as it challenges, it also opens up great opportunity for innovation.

The customer journey and their data are at the heart – understood and leveraged to meet their high expectations, now amplified by digital immediacy. And as we bridge a transition from a transactional to experiential mindset in luxury retail, experience design is now as much of a business art as product design.

When Global Experience Innovation Agency LiveArea helped La Prairie with its ecommerce relaunch in 2017, the strategy included innovations from an online concierge service to a 3D immersive virtual art gallery. And crucially, digital potential is not just confined to screens; reimagining relationships between physical stores and digital spaces through augmentation is also important, particularly for companies that are not digital pure plays, such as Harvey Nichols, looking to use its stores as strategic assets to deliver great product experiences as well as introduce exciting and unusual ways of spending time with the brand.

Blended reality and VR also have a part to play in seamless 360-degree omnichannel strategies, while all along the chain, the interplay of the digital and real world continues to inform a wider understanding of brand and customer. Digital touchpoints become the equivalent of shop assistants, playing key roles in personalisation and exclusivity, while in the physical world data enhances what sales assistants already know about their clients, allowing them to serve them better offline.

Ultimately, though, for all its complexity, success in the digital age still rests on how brands make people feel — but the ability and creative potential to forge extraordinary experiences around them has never been greater.

uk.liveareacx.com
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