Luxury retail is thriving in Australia -
as can be seen by the lines of people on the footpath, queued up almost daily to enter Gucci etc. The recent investment that Tiffany has committed to in their new Sydney flagship store, also implies confidence in the local market.
High end luxury vehicle marques are also experiencing a great result - Rolls Royce predicts that their sales will increase by between 10-20 percent in Australia in 2019 - and Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari also have a similar story. Upmarket furniture retailers are generally also going from strength to strength, not only with imported European furniture, but also with high end Australian designed furniture.
Luxury is perceived differently by everyone however, there is common ground that most will agree upon which is the recognition of brands that define luxury. These brands, through their heritage, backstory and marketing strategies, instantly create an image of exclusivity and desirability - that many people want to be associated with.
Each individual’s background and interests will place the perception of luxury at a different point, as will their expectations be different, when they are looking to obtain a luxury item.
Mostly, luxury retailing has gone beyond the obvious “Glitz & Champagne” environments with stiff, servant-like sales assistants being subservient to the clients every comment and whim.
Today, the sales assistant needs to be more akin to a brand ambassador, with intimate knowledge of the product which is conveyed to the client, in a simple yet stylish way.
Most people research future major purchases online, to better understand the product and determine if it suits them and their lifestyle. Understanding this, the boutique should incorporate some point-of-sale reference, possibly interactive that replicates the online experience in the boutique. This would be better done in video, rather than still images - although, still images should not be completely abandoned.
Todays luxury retail environment is very different to that of only a few years ago. Today, luxury is mainly presented in a lighter, less intimidating manner which is as much focused on lifestyle, as on exclusivity.
The boutique should strongly feature a “backstory”, demonstrating in an educational manner, the precision - manufactured or natural - of the products and the attention to detail the brand represents, with an overall ambiance that also strongly reflects the mood and the lifestyle, that best depicts the brands sold. Everyone loves a good short story.
Lighting should be subtle and pooled. Generally, an overall light wash should be kept to a minimum and the emphasis on personal light used when possible, to create an intimate feeling. Overhead lighting should be indirect, unless highlighting the product. All display lighting should be designed to make jewellery sparkle, and products such a DiaLumen lighting systems, could be considered to achieve that.
Any formal desk or barrier between the client and the sales ambassador, should be minimised and seating should always place the client’s eye level, slightly higher than the sales assistant/ambassador. This is less intimidating for the client and therefore, assists to help them feel at ease.
Informal seating should be arranged in a way that places the client and sales assistant/ambassador, on an equal basis - and should a table be required to demonstrate the product, the table shouldn’t be a square barrier, but preferably round or oval.
It’s not unusual that major luxury purchases are not always made immediately. Clients may want to consider the purchase further - there a number of possible reasons for this - however, this should also be seen as a positive development by the retailer, as it gives them a chance to market to the client via email or sms or even a beautiful piece of printed material, that also contains a personal hand written note.
In summary, the boutique and sales assistant/ambassadors should represent the quality and heritage of the brands, understanding that this is a destination that the client has chosen to be in.
The more comfortable they are in your environment, the easier it will be for them to decide to make the purchase - or a least to return for a second or possibly a third visit - each time taking them closer to the day of the purchase.
Robyn & Peter Rektor