Written by Hannah Stewart | June 13, 2017

How to sell luxury products online: 5 simple e-commerce tips

Digital marketing for luxury brands can be challenging; learn some simple steps from how legendary shirtmaker Turnbull and Asser increased conversions without compromise on brand 

Turnbull and Asser blogpost

Turnbull and Asser is a bespoke shirtmaker, clothier and tie maker established all the way back in 1885. Perhaps unsurprising for the first brand to receive the Prince of Wales' Royal Warrant, it has a strong commitment to product excellence and impeccable service, whether from its flagship store on London’s Jermyn Street, online or with its partners around the world.

But what does that mean when you move from the world of bricks-and-mortar to e-commerce? By 2019, the share of B2C e-commerce on total luxury sales worldwide will grow by over a half, so it's crucial to express the same value online as you do offline. 

There’s a growing realisation amongst luxury brands - like Turnbull and Asser - that selling online can supplement and reinforce the luxury in-store experience, rather than denigrating it. In this article we'll explore how to sell luxury products online through examining some of Turnbull and Asser's key tactics: 

 

Turnbull and Asser website

 

Avoid site-wide discounting (at all costs) 

A key part of luxury is exclusivity - and that means that discounting online runs the risk of appearing to devalue your product to a potential customer. There are, however, many other ways to incentivise your visitor to move on to checkout.

One of the most effective mechanisms is to offer free shipping; studies have shown that shoppers spend up to 30% more when delivery is included. Turnbull and Asser's offer of free shipping on tailoring also promises free returns, giving added reassurance to the customer that they can purchase without risk.

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Content is key to the experience 

Luxury brands are defined by the fact that they're about much more than the product itself; it's the experience that the customer buys into. In a bricks-and-mortar store, the calibre of service and environment contribute to this - but online, that's a little harder to express. So what do you turn to? The answer is content. 

Content - whether that's video, blogs or even email, enriches your customer experience while continuing to express your brand values (and of course, the occasional product mention).

Turnbull and Asser's Off the Cuff blog is a great example of a luxury brand offering a diverse range of content that maps succinctly to the interests of its audience of affluent men living fast-paced lifestyles. Recent posts range from guides to the Monaco Grand Prix to interviews with Samuel L himself:

Turnbull and Asser blogpost

Just remember that whatever you do, it needs to be of the highest quality, with the same level of attention to detail that you'd apply to your product.  

 

Make your value signals clear 

When you have to reduce a instore atmosphere and personal service to a thoroughly '2D' onsite experience, it's more important than ever to highlight the value of your brand through other means. 

In the case of Turnbull and Asser, this means highlighting its Royal Warrant - a recognisable seal of quality if there ever was one. The insignia not only appears subtly throughout the website, but is also explained in detail on a dedicated page of the site

Turnbull and Asser Royal Warrant

For many luxury brands (though not all), heritage and history play a huge role in underpinning identity and articulating value - it's a key part of what your customer is buying into when they pay a premium price. 

These messages are more important than ever when your customer is online, and therefore doesn't have the opportunity to engage with your product hands-on. Telling your heritage story on your e-commerce site - as Turnbull and Asser does in an extensive collection of articles and videos - is a must-do for any luxury brand. 

 

Complement your bricks-and-mortar stores 

As we've mentioned earlier, the previous reticence from luxury brands to engage with e-commerce has often been because of concern of how online and offline worlds would collide. In fact, it's of huge benefit to make sure the two work closely together. 

Many luxury products require an element of in-person service that can't always be replicated online - expert measurement and fitting, customisation or even just the feel of great quality. That means there are always going to be a proportion of visitors who - even though they may discover the brand and product online - will want to come instore before they move to purchase. 

This means that you need to ensure that the route to the showroom is clear from the website, which Turnbull and Asser makes clear in a header shown throughout the site:

Turnbull and Asser store finder  

In addition, the brand's bespoke service - naturally, only available in-store - is clearly articulated in a dedicated page on the site that articulates each step of the service with rich, quality visual content. It effectively 'sells' the service with clear CTAs that guide the user through to making an enquiry to one of Turnbull and Asser's stores.

Another way to integrate the online and offline experiences can be through offering a 'Click and Collect' (in-store pick-up) service, which 63% of customers have already used. As well as fulfilling a multichannel expectation, it can make a smart alternative to free delivery policies if these aren't an option for your store. 

 

Make the service personal

The sales associate in a luxury retail store is the best-of-the-best; knowledgeable, quick-thinking and above all, able to read the customer's behaviours and respond with the right tactic that makes the sales and creates a great experience for the customer. 

Online, that translated to using smart onsite overlays and notifications that trigger in response to visitor behaviour: 

 

Turnbull and Asser used the Yieldify Conversion Platform to create and deploy their onsite messaging, generating new leads and conversions. Download the full story of how they did it (and how you can replicate it for yourself) here

Key takeaways 

Like what you've seen here? Download our free e-book, featuring the luxury e-commerce cheat sheet, to get even more tips and advice on digital marketing for luxury brands:

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Topics: luxury