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5 lessons independent retailers can learn from luxury brands

In this post, we’ll shed light on some of the key lessons that independent stores can learn from high-end retail.

Luxury brands continue to be prominent players in the retail industry. According to Statista, the luxury retail segment in the UK had a growth rate of 24.8% from 2013 to 2018 — a figure that’s significantly higher compared to the growth of the general retail sector (11.9%).

These brands are evidently doing a lot of things right, and it’s worth exploring the strategies and tactics of these companies for continuous growth.

Have a look below and see if you can apply the following pointers in your business.

1. Striking the balance between classic and modern

Luxury brands strive to keep up with modern shoppers while staying true to their classic roots. One of the ways they do this is by releasing trendy merchandise every season while maintaining a steady assortment of the classic pieces that they’re known for.

Take Louis Vuitton, for example. While the fashion house doesn’t shy away from releasing fashion-forward purses, Louis Vuitton continues to carry iconic pieces such as the Speedy and Neverfull. Consider using a similar approach to your assortment. Aim to keep up with the latest trends by regularly refreshing products, but be sure to keep those classic looks that can stand the test of time.

2. The distinction between clients and customers

Luxury retailers hardly ever refer to their shoppers as “customers”; they prefer to use the term “clients.” It may seem like a subtle word choice on paper, but it can mean a world of difference to how guests are treated in-store.

While the two words can sometimes be used interchangeably, a closer look at these terms shows some key distinctions. A “customer” can be defined simply as someone who buys products and services from a business. A “client,” on the other hand, is an individual who taps into the expertise and services of a professional.

As ​​ puts it:
Customers are generally people who come to you mainly to buy the products or services you supply. Clients buy your advice and solutions personalised to their particular needs.

It’s an important distinction that can dictate how retailers interact with shoppers. Those who see guests as ​customers​ will simply sell products. Meanwhile, companies who see shoppers as ​clients​ aim to provide advice and bespoke solutions to fit their needs.

Luxury brands unequivocally fall into the latter group, and that’s one of the things that makes them so attractive.

3. Less is more

In retail, space conveys value. The more space there is in a store or display, the higher the perceived value of the products. This why many luxury retailers display items in standalone cases while discount stores overstuff their shelves with products.

Have a look at this example from Fendi. The display features a few select pieces, allowing guests to truly take in each style.

Source: ​

The right amount of space to use in your store depends on how you want to be perceived. But one thing is clear: if don’t want people to think that your products are cheap, then you’ll want to use fewer items in your displays.

4. The in-store experience is paramount

Luxury retailers invest heavily in flagship locations that consistently draw a tremendous amount of foot traffic. These locations offer in-store experiences that immerse shoppers into the world of the brand.

Take Burberry’s flagship store in London. ​Insider Trends​ reports that the vast location marries Burberry’s traditional heritage with futuristic technology. Burberry’s brand is brought to life with “multimedia screen content, catwalks streaming on film and RFID smart to create a spectacular, seamless shopping experience.”

Other brands are even introducing food and drink to the mix. Tiffany & Co., for example, opened a restaurant called the Blue Box Cafe on the 4th floor of its New York flagship store.

The move, which is part of Tiffany’s strategy to lure younger consumers, seems to be working. Andrea Davey, the company’s senior vice president of global marketing, ​told CNN that the Blue Box Cafe has up to 4,500 tables on its wait list on any given weekend.

Why are these brands investing so much in their locations? Simple: they understand that modern consumers are craving rich experiences when they shop at brick and mortar stores. Shoppers today can buy nearly anything with a tap of a button, so retailers who are looking to drive traffic must give people compelling reasons to head to the High Street.

5. Embracing technology

The best-in-class luxury companies are embracing technology and levering the latest retail solutions to increase traffic, sales, and loyalty.

The Prada Group, for example, ​deployed in-store WiFi​ across more than 500 of its stores around the world. In doing so, the brand is able to enhance the in-store experience while gaining deeper insights into their guests.

Prada’s WiFi network has the capabilities to “recognise” repeat shoppers and alert the store’s sales associates, so they can provide more personalised experiences. The solution also enables Prada to obtain foot traffic analytics — such as visitor counts and dwell times — so they can optimise their staff schedules and assortments accordingly.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to deploy sophisticated guest WiFi to embrace retail technology. As an independent store, you can start with a modern ​EPOS system​ with customer management and analytics to help you gain better insights into your shoppers.

Vend, for instance, allows you to create shopper profiles so you can tailor each person’s experience based on their purchase history.

The system also has reporting capabilities that can shed light on metrics like your bestsellers, top-performing staff, peak sales times, and more. Having that data at your fingers helps you make smarter decisions around staffing, merchandising, and store layout.

Final words
You don’t need a luxury budget to apply these lessons from high-end brands. With the right technology partners — and a dash of resourcefulness — you too can create captivating assortments and experiences for your shoppers.

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