New York, NY—E-tailer Net-A-Porter and its brother site Mr Porter were named 2016 Luxury Retailer Of The Year by Luxury Daily. The sites were lauded for introducing to an online audience luxury brands that have traditionally been averse to e-commerce up till now.
For instance, the sites became the first solely online outlets to (legitimately) retail IWC Schaffhausen timepieces, and Tiffany & Co. chose Net-A-Porter as the only authorized website (besides its own) to sell its jewelry. Gucci and Prada also have exclusive offerings on the site.
Other innovations that pushed the sites to a win include adopting new forms of retail—namely, partnering with digital fashion rental service Armarium and a two-screen shopping experience for Apple TV—plus innovative advertising, compelling content in its magazines (one title, Edit, is shown left), and a partnership with J. Crew that reflects the reality that luxury shoppers buy at multiple price points.
Nordstrom was the first runner-up for the award, for its creativity in reaching out to younger shoppers. Many of those efforts were offline extensions of its online persona, including a party for college students to win via Snapchat or popping up at music festivals with an experiential pod, and more. The retailer also styled nominees and presenters for the 70th annual Tony Awards, and more.
Barneys New York was the second runner-up, with its new high-tech/high-touch Chelsea store that uses iBeacons and RichRelevance’s Relevance Cloud to deliver personalized notifications and content to shoppers’ mobile devices while they’re in the store.
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Separately, in the Foresee Experience Index rankings of U.S. retailers, Saks Fifth Avenue and Apple came in as leaders in the in-store customer experience (CX). Not surprisingly, Amazon led in both web and mobile experience, with Apple in the number-two spot for mobile. In the Forsee Index, Nordstrom trailed Saks by four points in in-store experience, but Saks didn’t make the rankings for web or mobile, whereas Nordstrom did—coming in one point below the average score for both web and mobile experiences respectively.
Key components of an outstanding in-store experience include the right combination of price, merchandise, service, store environment, and—significantly—employee engagement. Retail employee engagement has a huge impact on customers’ experiences in stores, says the report. Employees wear their hearts on their sleeves, and Forsee’s data for the third straight year confirms that increases in employee engagement significantly increase customer satisfaction in stores.
Chart: ForeSee Experience Index
Customers who have a great store experience are 50% more likely to purchase in the store, 75% more likely to purchase from that retailer via another channel, 60% more likely to return to that retailer the next time they shop the same category, and 74% more likely to recommend that store to others.
Chart: ForeSee Experience Index
“Retailers that provide great customer experiences enjoy higher revenue, better customer loyalty, a bigger market share, and even higher stock prices. Customer experience (CX) is a proven driver of financial success. It’s therefore imperative that retailers measure it in the right way,” says Forsee Experience Index author Eric Feinberg.
ForeSee has produced the annual ForeSee Experience Index (FXI) annually since 2005. The firm has been measuring and analyzing customer experience (CX) for hundreds of retail clients for 15 years, providing more than 200 million benchmarkable experiences. Researchers on the 2016 project were Joyce Davis, Kristofer Klette, and Jose R. Benkf, PhD.
Not surprisingly, Forsee’s experts emphasize the need for an omnichannel viewpoint. Outstanding results in individual channels (also called “siloed initiatives”) are of course important, but Forsee’s data shows customers are less likely to tolerate different results in different channels.
ForeSee explains key drivers of an outstanding Web experience, above, and mobile experience, below. Both charts, ForeSee Experience Index
“Shoppers are migratory creatures. They consume content, comparison shop, make purchase decisions, and share their opinions where and when it best serves them: on websites, in stores, with mobile devices, and through social media. Our collective challenge in the retail industry is to figure out how to paint a complete picture of this customer journey in a way that is at once measurable and actionable — and ultimately profitable,” says Forsee.