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08/11/2011 / loyaltymarketingnews

What luxury brands can learn from retailers on mobile

Since luxury brands are slow to adapt to mobile to begin with, department stores quickly got the upper hand in the medium. But that experience, trial-and-error and open-mindedness helped retailers to share a multitude of tips for closely-watching independent brands.

Most luxury brands do not have mobile applications or optimized sites, and their attempts at other mobile marketing tactics such as banner ads and QR codes are lackluster. However, most retailers have already perfected these techniques.

“Retailers have quickly embraced using mobile to reach their customers before, during and after the sale,” said Elyse Phillips, director of marketing at Appcelerator, Mountain View, CA. “Mobile is an even more powerful marketing channel for them than the Web was because mobile devices are always with their customers, no matter where they are.

“Delivering an optimized mobile Web site is the easiest first step into mobile,” she said. “However, thanks to Apple, the retail customer has come to expect ‘an app for that,’ so retailers also need to deliver an engaging mobile app experience to create a marketing channel that customers will return to again and again.”

Site seeing
Almost every luxury department store has a site that is optimized for mobile, but consumers are hard-pressed to find many luxury brands that have them.

An optimized site is a necessity in the mobile space, especially if brands aim to delve into advanced mobile activities.

For example, many luxury brands are getting into QR codes. This can prove to be an effective opportunity to engage with consumers, but only if done correctly.

Last spring, department store chain Bloomingdale’s used QR codes and SMS messaging that led consumers to a mobile-optimized site post-scan or through links sent via text (see story).

Optimized site following a QR code scan

Since the site was optimized, consumers were able to shop through the site and have a more enjoyable user experience without pinching and zooming every few seconds.

On the other hand, Italian handbag and footwear designer Salvatore Ferragamo could have missed out on possible mobile commerce sales by not linking ads to an optimized site following its banner ads in the New York Times mobile application for the iPhone (see story).

Ferragamo’s Flash-driven site does not load

Another move that luxury retailers make in the mobile space is innovation. Department stores are absolutely the pioneers when it comes to making mobile moves.

One example is that retailers make well-constructed and functional mobile apps. Some luxury brands make multiple apps that most consumers will use a few times and then delete.

However, department stores’ apps can be used continually and not solely by brand loyalists.

Indeed, Neiman Marcus has a few mobile apps that are independently useful.

The NM Editions app combines the quality and aesthetics of a catalog and the right-now modernity of mobile since consumers can buy luxury branded products right from the app.

This also includes the highly-acclaimed Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, which offers fantasy gifts such as dancing fountains for the home valued at $1 million, a Ferrari FF starting at $350,000, tickets to the International Flower Show tour by private jet for $420,000 and a Neiman Marcus-Edition Hacker-Craft speedboat valued at $250,000 (see story).

Neiman Marcus editions app

“Luxury brands are generally slower to develop a mobile app because of their desire to only reach out to their affluent consumers,” said Doo Kim, marketing and advertising executive at Appitalism, New York. “Many high-end retailers strive for the hard to get approach, which is the reputation they are looking to uphold.

“Any app that can directly connect the shopper with products has already differentiated themselves and the Neiman Marcus app has already proved that by making it visually attractive and interactive,” she said. “It really goes to show that the luxury department stores that we associate ourselves with care about what their consumers are looking for and how simple it is to make that transaction.”

Making history
On the other hand, retailers are not out of the woods when it comes to mobile mishaps.

For instance, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman are guilty of not optimizing their mobile sites following QR codes and banner ads, and some retailers do not even have apps.

There is one thing that retailers can learn from independent brands – care about brand history and legacy.

“One factor that luxury retailers can learn from a high-end luxury brand is the sense of history they provide,” Ms. Kim said. “One of the reasons a high-end luxury brand does so well is because so many generations can relate to it and the retailer makes that so abundantly clear.

“More often than not, luxury retailers will push for the obvious when developing their mobile app,” she said. “The obvious pertaining to the best deals they can acquire, where they can find it and how quickly to achieve it.”

Indeed, the most important component of a mobile site is that it is a seamless transition from traditional channels such as in-store and print.

The Dior app has the same look and feel as its in-store and Web presence

Mobile is a mass-market communication tool, but taking special precautions to ensure that the experience is pleasing, beautiful and functional is what can set a luxury marketer apart from mass-retail brands.

“The mobile shopping experience should enhance the rich in-store shopping experience on the mobile device through large, beautiful product images, sleek design, a full product catalog and rich mobile videos that bring the essence of the luxury in-store experience to the palm of consumers’ hands,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

“Copying and pasting the full online site to mobile will not create the rich mobile shopping experience that luxury retail shoppers demand,” he said. “The mobile-optimized Web site and downloadable rich apps should reflect the design and experience luxury shoppers look for when shopping from their favorite luxury retailers in the store.”

 

(via Luxury Daily)

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