By Patrick Lowe, AVP Business Management at PFS
In today’s increasingly competitive and turbulent market, luxury jewellery retailers are under more pressure than ever to keep up with customer expectations when it comes to quality and convenience. High-end jewellery retailers are traditionally well-established with a rich history as a brick-and-mortar operations. As consumers migrate to online shopping in their masses, and with many retailers using omnichannel business models enabling them to move quickly and grow with the demands of the market whilst creating a seamless experience, luxury jewellery retailers need to be nimble in order to compete and retain customer loyalty.
Speed isn’t the only challenge facing high-end jewellery brands in the age of eCommerce. Whilst it is essential to keep up with the lifestyle of today’s busy shopper and provide quick and efficient ways to deliver a product to the consumer, quality remains high on the priority list. High-end jewellery brands risk losing market share if they fail to meet the expectations of their customers, as the jewellery market becomes more saturated with cost-effective brands that also provide an attractive shopping experience and fast and efficient delivery options. It is important that luxury brands can provide their customers with the same convenience as well as the quality they have come to expect so that attention and loyalty aren’t shifted elsewhere.
Optimising consumers’ jewellery buying experience
Value-added service such as engraving, monogramming and personalized gift wrapping are all options that consumers are increasingly looking for. A premium retailer equipped to personalise or gift wrap items at the point of purchase has become more desirable for consumers, removing the need to take an additional step. Providing multiple options such as fonts, style of gift wrapping and even bonus gifts can ensure a customer feels valued and part of the brand, increasing the likelihood of customer loyalty. This could be within the packaging itself; ribbon and high-quality wrapping materials, or by providing additional items such as free promotional products or an after-care kit.
Social media platforms like Instagram are increasingly becoming the new online marketplace – and a space that high-end jewellery brands can utilise to their advantage. The introduction of the ‘Buy Now’ button, across the Metaverse and beyond, has meant that purchasing products is easier than ever. Social commerce enables retailers to significantly reduce their customers’ path-to-purchase creating a heightened experience leading to further customer acquisition and brand loyalty.
As high-end and luxury jewellery is often gifted rather than purchased, usually at a significant point in life such as a milestone birthday or engagement, brands need to offer the same in-store and online experience to ensure the customer is assured that their important purchase will be a seamless experience. Brands can utilise big data to better understand their consumers’ online behaviours through their browsing and purchasing habits to then target prospective and existing customers in the right ways at the right times. By making the pre- and post-purchase experience a simple-to-follow process, with minimal clicks to checkout and suggestions along the way, as well as the right packing and delivery options, customers will be sure to return thanks to the ease of purchase and a seamless experience.
Whilst the benefits of social commerce are many, brands can only be successful on this platform if they also look beyond the point of purchase. The complete end-to-end experience will shape a customer’s perception of a brand and therefore their relationship in the future. Brands that provide the optimum customer experience from the initial tap of the ‘Buy now’ button, to delivery and beyond can expect to see the retention of customers, a reduction of end-to-end service costs, and overall customer satisfaction.
Along with this comes the ease of returns. Regardless of the level of customer service, the sizing of an item is often something that cannot be easily verified online. Although many jewellery brands offer detailed sizing charts, a customer might order multiple sizes of the same item to ensure their desired fit. Retailers will need to account for this, offering a clear and easy returns process that will leave a lasting impression in a customer’s mind for the right reason and influence their willingness to return
24K customer support
Customers have the option of pivoting between online and in-store to browse and deliberate before they make their purchases. With high-end jewellery a significant and emotional purchase, retailers need to ensure customers receive the same bespoke, personalised experience that they would in-store. The online customer service team should be as well informed as in-store sales staff, and able to communicate details about the product range and stock levels, as well as any other services available.
With 20% of customers claiming they do not feel any emotional connection to any retailer or brand at all, it has never been more important for brands to recapture the loyalty of current and future generations by replicating this high-quality experience online. Luxury brand buyers are often more loyal precisely because they are served with consistent excellence. Great communication doesn’t stop with reactive customer service. Proactive communication after the point of purchase, informing customers of order status, needs to go beyond the usual functional emails. Those notifications should be highly personalised, attractive, and timely.
Picture perfect packaging
Attractive, sustainable, and efficient packaging options should be front of mind for high-end jewellers, as it presents an invaluable opportunity to deliver high-quality customer service to make a positive impression, build brand awareness, and stand out from the competition.
Packaging not only helps deliver the very essence of the brand identity directly to the consumer, but the correct size packaging also protects the item, costs less and enables more boxes to fit in a truck for delivery- ensuring a sustainable journey from the point of purchase to delivery. As well as shipping boxes needing to be sized proportionately to the items shipped, orders should be well presented and personalised to enhance and create a memorable experience for the customer. The packaging needs to be premium, with unique brand elements, and with absolute consistency from one package to the next.
An added benefit of beautiful packing is the growth of popularity in unboxing videos. This online trend has gone from an internet fad to a powerful eCommerce marketing tool. A positive customer unboxing experience can help your brand generate intrigue and attract new customers across social media platforms.
Complimentary, quick delivery
Offering customers multiple options when making a purchase online can win favour with customers, with 38% of shoppers in the UK starting this as part of their ideal shopping experience. A seamless WMS and warehouse operation can ensure that orders are met with speed and ease and are entirely reliable, in line with the customer requirement. This is something customers paying a high-end price point will automatically expect – anything less could result in a negative customer experience, and ultimately a loss of brand loyalty.
By utilising a multi-node fulfilment approach and distributed order management (DOM) technology, brands can provide faster, more convenient delivery options and optimise their inventory. Offering options such as complimentary two-day shipping or click and collect, add value without eroding the premium brand positioning. Click and collect can be an extremely effective way to add a human touch to an online experience, allowing a customer to associate the digital experience with a friendly face upon collection – also enabling retailers to leverage existing physical space.
In order for high-street jewellery brands to succeed in achieving customer loyalty, every step of the customer’s purchasing experience should be consistent throughout, from receiving advice and guidance, to unboxing and aftercare. Luxury jewellery retailers can provide their customers with quality and convenience without tarnishing their brand, but they will need to carefully create this balance through value-added customer services, with detail orientated, luxury packaging and an efficient delivery experience to set their brand above the rest.