Online shopping has been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years. This growth has been visible in the luxury sector as well, with luxury online stores doing good business and generating big profits. New York City-based Luxury Institute, an independent and objective international firm that tracks the high net worth consumer, conducted a survey recently to study the most popular and least favored luxury retail websites in business today. The survey was entitled the 2011 Luxury Online Customer Experience Index, and it presented several interesting results.
The exclusive survey was conducted to get the responses of high net worth individuals with regard to their favorite luxury online stores. Specifically, this group of wealthy buyers was composed of individuals who made at least $150,000 a year. This luxury living survey by Luxury Institute encouraged its affluent respondents to rate their favorites and least favorites from a list of 16 online retailers on various parameters. These parameters included visual appeal, site navigability, quality of product selection, ease of purchase and access to customer service. Respondents also rated the sites based on how successfully images and text were used on the luxury retail websites to explain product features. Respondents were also asked to score the site based on whether they intended to return or were likely to recommend it to friends and family.
Sites were scored on a scale of 1 to 100. The top rankers on this list of luxury retail websites were no surprise. Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Brooks Brothers and Net-A-Porter earned top honors on this luxury living survey with each scoring a high 81 points. However, the honor of being the most visited luxury online store went to Nordstrom. The site has drawn the most visitors from among the surveyed respondents in the past 12 months. Almost 23 percent of the respondents admitted to visiting Nordstrom.com during the period.
The 16 luxury retail sites that were up for consideration in this survey were divided into two categories: Traditional Retailers and Online Only. Here is the list of surveyed retail sites.
1. Barneys New York
2. Bergdorf Goodman
4. Brooks Brothers
5. Lord & Taylor
6. Neiman Marcus
8. Saks Fifth Avenue
2. eBay Fashion Vault
3. Gilt Groupe
7. Rue La La
The survey presented some interesting results. It was found that with the sole exception of the Richemont-owned Net-A-Porter, traditional retailers who connect with customers over multiple channels outperformed the online only players. Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza noted that flash luxury sites actually ended up on the bottom tier of this luxury living survey. He said that although luxury online stores are on a quick growth path, it is becoming a “commoditized product space”. He added that “long-term customer experiences” marked by greater customer retention and increased average spending were the main requirement for success in the online arena. Pedraza encouraged companies to take a leaf out of Net-A-Porter’s book and work on creating lasting customer relationships. He added that customer-centricity is the key to success in the 21st century.