By: James Sanders– founder and Managing Director of London Diamonds.
Growing a luxury boutique brand online is no mean feat; it requires a very different mindset and approach to planning than a traditional brick and mortar business. Despite the challenges, the current digital climate offers an exceptional opportunity to start an online venture and create a luxury boutique business.
Here are some tips from James that you may have not considered.
Be realistic and honest.
Luxury brand consumers are savvy people. Brands that try to sell standard, everyday products but market them as luxury with aspirational and misleading marketing to try and justify higher pricing is no longer accepted in the marketplace.
Consumers look for integrity, honesty, and fair pricing in the luxury products they buy. Ensure core, accurate information on your products is integrated into product descriptions, advertisements, and another form of your marketing. Quick tricks will not work – show authenticity and show it often.
As the MD of an online conflict free diamonds business, we know first-hand how vital the ethical side of online luxury brands is to the next generations. Consumers are more conscientious about their purchases and look for brands with values that align with their own. This new wave, driven by consumers, is growing year on year and is something every business should take seriously, especially luxury brands.
Perhaps your current luxury products are not the most ethical. Consider how you can begin to move towards greater sustainability with both your products and sourcing / manufacturing process. Begin to show this within your marketing – consumers want brands they can believe in (see shifting consumer attitudes for sustainability, fast fashion etc)
Don’t be a salesperson.
Everyone has experienced that time in a store when the sales assistant won’t leave your side and becomes so annoying that you smile politely and quickly make your exit. No one likes that experience, and the store loses its purchase. The same experience exists online, and the luxury market doesn’t take kindly to being pressure sold into purchasing. When you give consumers room to browse, ask questions and experience your luxury products or service in their own time, then you allow for natural sales to occur and a relationship to begin. Guide them through, understand their needs, don’t force the sale (especially with luxury tags).
All clients deserve to feel valued.
Consider Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; the store assistant made a “Big mistake” by treating her differently. If a tech billionaire walked past you on an average day, you probably wouldn’t recognise them because they often dress very casually. Still, these people could afford to buy your entire luxury line with their pocket change. Some clients will make a small test purchase to experience your product and service, and you could judge them on this and discount their value, only to find they next make a purchase of a £50,000 diamond engagement ring because you made them feel valued when they spent £1,000 with you.
Influencer marketing vs authenticity
Luxury brand clients have become wise to influencer marketing, and changes in consumer habits have shown that they much prefer the authentic boutique brand style of marketing. Most potential clients would choose luxury brands that share real client experiences with them rather than those that use stock images, models, inspirational and aspirational content to promote their brand. Check out these key tips for social media marketing in 2021.
Service and price
Success as an online luxury boutique brand requires providing clients with exceptional service and customer experience. Providing good value for money and pricing your products reasonably and honestly will give you good standing in the marketplace. No one will object to paying a fair price for a quality product and service; transparency is vital.
Customer service is now a key competitive advantage – make sure you are prioritising improvements of customer service, rather a constant pursuit for more sales.
Keep up with the new.
Many traditional brick and mortar businesses have gone under in recent years due to their inability to evolve and join the online marketplace. A few years back, the thought of designing and choosing a diamond engagement ring via your mobile phone would seem ridiculous! Surely that is what jewellery shops are for? Keep abreast of new trends, new ways your competitors are developing how they deliver their products and services. Assess, try, test, and repeat until you find the winning formula that works best for your business.
Be available and do more.
If long weekends and relaxing evenings are important, running a luxury boutique brand online and the entrepreneur lifestyle is probably not the right venture. Work harder than anyone else to be successful in an online business or any business for that matter. A shop may close its doors at 5 pm, but an online business and especially in the luxury market, does not close; clients should be able to reach you 24/7.
Start small to grow big.
There are many elements you need to start and develop a business, but if you start too big by hiring a large team or buying too much stock, that cost will have to be passed onto the clients. Manage your overheads by having a plan in place to scale the business and grow. Remember, focus on getting the customer proposition right (customer service) before trying to rapidly expand.
Knowledge is power.
“The personal luxury goods market is poised to grow by $ 33.53 bn during 2021-2025, progressing at a CAGR of almost 3% during the forecast period.” Source: BusinessWire.com
Consumers of luxury brands used to be the Gen-X and baby boomers who were tech-savvy. Now the millennial generation and Gen-Z are driving the online purchases of luxury brands. Knowing who your customers are now, and who they will become will help you to develop your online strategy and ensure you are marketing to the right audience as you grow.