Despite the rising number of affluent smartphone users, when it comes to purchasing luxury goods, wealthy consumers still prefer the real-life retail experience, according to a new study published by research and consulting firm Luxury Institute in partnership with mobile app startup Plastic Mobile.
The study, released this spring and available for purchase on the Luxury Institute’s website, finds that 80 percent of luxury goods consumers are downloading luxury goods apps, but only 56 percent are using them to shop.
Conventional wisdom has it that consumers are reticent to make expensive purchases on mobile devices due to security concerns. Turns out that isn’t the case at all.
In fact, as Sarah Plummer, Plastic Mobile’s communications specialist tells Sparksheet, the study found that an “impressive 72 percent of luxury consumers who choose to shop via mobile suggested there is no upper monetary limit to how much they would spend on mobile.”
So why aren’t mobile apps getting more sales? Plummer, referring to the study, says it has to do with the retail experience. The “leading reason (45 percent) as to why [affluent consumers] did not shop via mobile, was they preferred the in-store experience,” she says.
When people spend thousands on a piece of clothing, they’re likely buying into more than just cashmere. And that’s what the in-store experience offers: atmosphere, exclusivity, knowledgeable salespeople and, of course, the opportunity to try the clothes on.
The study concludes that luxury brands can help foster mobile adoption by integrating smartphone usage into the in-store experience. For example, by outfitting each sales person with mobile devices, Gucci eliminated the need for shoppers to use the till. Sales people can scan items on their devices and email customers the receipts.
Another example (not included in the study) is the integration of QR codes into the shopping experience at Donna Karan’s flagship stores. Since shoppers carry their smartphones with them, they can scan the display item’s QR code to receive more information. While this is not necessarily going to lead to a digital sale, it will get the customer used to digitally interacting with the brand.
These suggestions aren’t just shots in the dark. According to the study, digital integration is exactly what the luxury goods consumer wants from their brick and mortar retail experience.
As Plummer explains, “The study also showed that the affluent mobile users felt that sales professionals with a mobile application who can specify details about products (53 percent), have the ability to check for sizes and availability at other stores (50 percent) and in-store product inventory (47 percent) would enrich their luxury shopping experience.”
It turns out that digital and physical retail don’t have to (and shouldn’t) operate in distinct universes. It’s time for luxury brands to make the digital leap.