Muriel Zingraff-Shariff is a fashion, luxury and omnichannel retail specialist.
The launch in May of the Gucci Style app, an interactive online magazine, heralds a new digital era for luxury labels, as a growing number of brands enter the realm of mobile shopping. Yet while most luxury brands have their own websites and ecommerce channel, only a handful have gone mobile.
In January, UK online sales grew month on month by 8.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics, which means 10.7% of all retail spending took place online. Within this, the biggest growth has been in mobile commerce. A third of purchases online are made with mobile devices. Last year, 10% of UK shoppers surveyed by Flurry Analytics said their smartphone was their main method of shopping and a fifth had downloaded at least one retail app.
So why has it taken so long for premium brands to catch on? Luxury is not just about the product - it is about the experience. These companies have always been mindful to give their customers a unique shopping experience and many felt this could not be done on the internet, let alone on a mobile device. In 2000, the launch of Net-A-Porter showed brands how high-end fashion could be sold on the internet. Unencumbered by the weight of bricks and mortar, it took a pure-play etailer to show the way.
Ralph Lauren headlined the trend that same year and Burberry made it core to its 2006 strategy. Mobile devices have seen the quality of graphics and display resolution improve tenfold, enabling products to be shown with all their enticing details. Faster connections have promoted the use of video.
To a new generation of customers, the online luxury experience is not a poor substitute for buying in store. It is where they interact with the brand on a more intimate level. For all labels, whether luxury or high street, an app that is easy to use is a must in today’s competitive market - not just for the sales it generates, but also for recruiting new customers in different age groups or in different parts of the world.
Following the unstoppable evolution of shopping behaviours, we will see more and better apps for luxury labels, enabling customers old and new to buy on the go.