Luxury branding for ecommerce: taking inspiration from the masters of high end business

There is an idea that if you want to be a success in an online business then the way to go is to head for the luxury market. The luxury market is a profitable sector, trading on its exclusivity to deliver quality products and services to a discerning few rather than the undiscerning multitude. But how do you position a luxury brand for ecommerce?

Website design is critical

When it comes to marketing a luxury brand online, design of a website is critical. Too often, a luxury brand will attempt to maintain its unique standpoint by being equally unique, not to say odd, online. This approach often backfires, as most websites, luxury or not, have a shared usability, in that they have navigation bars, common ways of getting in touch, logical layouts etc. Any brand that attempts to do things differently and break with user interface conventions may risk alienating their users, resulting in lost sales. All ecommerce websites need to be focused on the user experience, making it easy for users to find what they want via categories and perhaps most importantly, where and how to purchase the products they are interested in.

Sophisticated sites

A clean design is best for ecommerce, especially luxury brands. Luxury implies elegance and sophistication, so the website design needs to reflect this with uncluttered pages, studio-worthy photography and sophisticated, clear fonts. However, do not make the mistake of designing a website with minimal text and images. This could create an impression of having nothing to say or offer and could leave your brand looking sterile and cold. It is vital to find the correct balance between lush imagery and classy minimalism.

Appropriate language

It is also important that the language used on the website, and throughout all marketing material, is appropriate for the target audience, the people who actually buy the goods. There is no place for obscurity on a website – users want accurate descriptions of the goods on offer and how they can be used or worn, not flowery, jargon-based wording that hides some of the key features. It helps to know how your target audience talks, whether they prefer a formal style or a conversational style.

Sourcing inspiration

If you are preparing to launch a luxury brand, then it would pay you to do a little research and see how others have done it. Previously, there was an idea that established luxury brands were diminishing their offerings by opening up an ecommerce store, that to do so would somehow make their products less desirable and thereby lose the luxury idea. However, this fear has proved to be unfounded. For instance, luxury brand Michael Kors developed an online retail strategy, resulting in a 73% growth in its online sales. The brand achieved this in a number of ways, which included posting and advertising on social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, whose visual based content is the perfect way to spread the word about a luxury, aspirational item. Another example is Hermes, a clothing brand that has created a microsite within its main website solely for its range of luxury scarves. This microsite features hand-sketched illustrations reminiscent of a designer’s original sketches that heighten the luxury, tailor made angle.

Try-Shopify

Then there are the brands that rely on a name alone to convey the idea of luxury, such as Las Vegas’ Steve Wynn. Steve Wynn has been a major player in the Las Vegas scene for more than 45 years and is often credited as being responsible for the revitalization of the area known as the Strip back in the 1990s. As a result, the name of Steve Wynn is synonymous not only with Las Vegas but with luxury. Name just a few of the most famous resorts in Las Vegas – the Bellagio, Treasure Island and Mirage – and you will be naming resorts that have Steve Wynn’s name attached to them or are known to have his involvement.

Develop a narrative

Another way to engage shoppers is to tell a story to sell luxury products. In this instance, a story does not mean beginning with ‘Once upon a time’, but rather a narrative that tells of how the particular product came into being: how the designer came up with the original idea, how the luxury materials were sourced, what kind of artisans come together to deliver the finished product. In all of this, authenticity is key and can be achieved with a narrative which conveys the story of a product’s evolution in an interesting and engaging way.

Social media

Social media may not be the most obvious way to engage with shoppers on a luxury level as it does have a universality which may be anathema to luxury brands, but it is actually a very good marketing tool. Put simply, the sheer number of people who use Facebook regularly makes the platform an ideal vehicle for advertising. Also, Facebook’s advertising enables a luxury brand to target their audience, thereby not wasting advertising dollars trying to appeal to people who have no intention to buy luxury brands. There is also the opportunity to offer users incentives, such as discount codes, gift vouchers or coupons that may encourage footfall in a physical store rather than online.

Keeping it exclusive

The main key in succeeding as a luxury brand is to remember what makes something luxury. Luxury is when demand exceeds supply, so you should only create a limited number of whatever product you offer. Limited production of a product naturally means that only certain people will be able to get their hands on it, with the implication being that these certain people are willing to pay well to acquire the goods. Any marketing campaign should begin by creating a demand for the product, emphasizing its exclusivity by stating only a limited number available. Once the demand has been created, the luxury aspect and price tag should take care of themselves.

Many entrepreneurs dream of creating a successful luxury ecommerce business, but many fail to understand how to develop their original idea and translate it into a money-making entity. Focus on your customers’ desires rather than their needs, and pursue attractive website design techniques and clever marketing to create a demand for your products.

Feature image curtsey of Paulius

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.

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