There seems to be an overall stigma in the luxury ecommerce industry: While beautiful to look at, luxury brand sites typically perform poorly when it comes to user experience and functionality. When ecommerce first became mainstream, luxury brands were fearful of losing their exclusivity factor. In their eyes, ecommerce gave global access to their products, meaning anyone could purchase their items. However, many brands quickly realized the flaw in this logic: Ecommerce opened the gate to distribute content globally—not necessarily products. Now, it’s easy to find a luxury site that offers the perfect balance between branded content and user experience.
Brick-and-mortar luxury stores are clearly driven by quality, design, and exclusivity—naturally, luxury shoppers would expect the same experience shopping online. Your luxury site could have an easy-to-use UX, but without enticing on-brand content, customers will likely look elsewhere for their luxury purchases. Some experts have even found that luxury shoppers actually value imagery and web design over functionality.
Finding a Balance Between Content and UX
Where to use branded contentBranded content needs to be everywhere: ecommerce site, social media channels, physical stores, and advertisements. The key is keeping the aesthetic of your content similar across all channels. Most consumers don’t differentiate between their online and offline experiences; both are components of the overall brand. Meredith Eads, Lead UX Designer at Blue Acorn, suggests, “It is important to determine your brand’s voice and tone, but a clear visual language should also be defined.” Consistent branding aids in creating a seamless omnichannel experience for your customers. For example, you can usually watch the recording and see photos from Chanel’s latest runway show across all of its channels, including its monobrand stores, website, and social media channels.
How to use branded content to enhance user experience
In lieu of being able to try on and feel items in-store, branded content provides buyers the information they need to overcome their reservations of purchasing high-priced items online. Eads says, “Especially for fashion brands, stylized photography and high-quality videos online are necessary to help customers picture your product or brand within their lifestyle.” That said, the site needs to feel as rich, personalized, and thoughtfully designed as the brick-and-mortar stores. Changing the focus of the homepage based on the customer’s preferences and shopping habits provides a more personalized experience. For example, using large images to highlight relevant, high-value sections enables the shopper to easily drill down by category and subcategory to find what they are looking for quickly.
Images and videos are an effective way to tell your brand’s and product’s story and an opportunity to create an emotional connection with the consumer. Videos may include your latest runway show, how to style or use the products, or an ad campaign. On the product detail page (PDP), many luxury brands and retailers will include videos of a model walking in the shoes or clothing, so the customer can see how the item moves and fits. High-quality images are ideal for conveying the details of the product, such as the seam on a jacket or the diamonds on a bracelet. Eads says, “It’s cliché, but an image speaks a thousand words—online, users are more inclined to scan than read so compelling imagery is crucial to creating a connection with your brand.”
Keep in mind, branded content isn’t limited to images and videos. The product descriptions on the PDP is your chance to tell the customer, in the brand’s voice, exactly why they should buy that item. Rather than a bullet point list of features, write the product description as if you were narrating a story. Customers want to know things like how the product is made, why it was made, styling tips, how it fits, or where it should be worn.
Farfetch, an online luxury retailer, encompasses most of these factors in its product descriptions:
Compelling images and videos not only offer customers a pleasing shopping experience on the site but also on social media. Many luxury brands and retailers understand the impact of providing creative content through channels like Instagram. Instagram has become a powerful tool for businesses, changing the way users shop and style themselves. Many of the heritage luxury brands have several million followers: Louis Vuitton has over 11 million followers and Chanel has over 25 million followers. The best part? If the user sees something they like on the brand’s Instagram feed, they can buy it straight from there. For example, Burberry enables shoppers to “Shop Now” from each of the images—making it easy for shoppers to purchase the exact item they are viewing without having to go to the website or store.
Branded content doesn’t stop at your site and social media channels. Email marketing is a key component in creating a seamless user experience, and you want zero confusion about who the email is from based on the email’s design and aesthetic. In Burberry’s welcome email, the marketing team includes a link to a video of their latest runway show, a link with an image to a product you recently viewed, a link to the Burberry app, a link to their Instagram page, and a link to find a store near you. All in one email, the marketing team is able to tie in all of their channels, giving the user the power to choose the best option that works for their shopping preferences.
Branded content combined with UX helps you marry the brand’s online and in-store channels to contextually create one luxurious experience. It’s a win-win for consumers and brands: By maintaining the level of superior service expected by luxury consumers, shoppers are happy, and brands can cultivate lifetime relationships with their customers across all channels.