With ecommerce becoming increasingly prevalent, luxury retailers must improve their online and delivery service or risk losing their customers.
With my 20th wedding anniversary looming, and on a holiday in the States with my family, we happened ‘purely by chance’ to stumble upon a handbag store.
My wife and daughters remarked on how beautiful a certain little treasure was. The seed was planted.
Initially I couldn’t even pronounce the brand. It began with a B and ended in ‘aga’. I could have almost bought a bleeding Aga for the price of this Balenciaga.
Landing back in the UK with two days to go, I had few options to secure this perfect gift. So I Googled it. Up popped Matches Fashion offering next-day delivery. A brand I knew, but hadn’t used before. Great. The only issue was that the bag would arrive between 6pm and 9pm. My wife would be in, but I might not.
I called and asked if they could schedule the delivery for a one-hour slot. “Sorry, sir, our delivery company can’t do that.” So even for this ridiculously overpriced handbag, you can’t assure me of a one-hour window? “Nope.”
OK, I said, please ask the question. “OK, sir, I’ll call you back.” Did they? Of course they didn’t. I bought the bag and hoped for the best. The good news is Mrs Newman was very happy with it.
I was appalled by the lack of flexibility and poor customer service from a purveyor of luxury brands. I’m not trying to single out Matches, it is evidence of a broader issue.
Luxury retailers often see themselves as a breed apart, existing in a bubble that allows them to deliver sub-standard service online that would never be deemed acceptable in their stores.
In the ecommerce world, talk of personalisation usually refers to how websites display to different customers, which products are promoted and, maybe, pricing. Customer service and fulfilment tend not to be discussed.
While fulfilment options such as next-day evening delivery are good, when you go into a luxury retail store you expect personal service.
Increasingly, luxury retailers will find that their online customers expect the same level of service.
- Martin Newman, chief executive, Practicology