The experience of shopping in upscale—even opulent—venues and interacting with knowledgeable and gracious associates is an essential component of the luxury brand experience. Because that’s what the purchase of a luxury item really is: a deeply pleasurable experience, one centered on a product but supported and intensified by an ethos and mystique.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, brick and mortar defined the luxe journey. Ecommerce figured into the process, but as an adjunct rather than the central element. Digital platforms were convenient mediums for browsing new products and making impulse purchases; but given a choice, luxury brand devotees still preferred physical stores for conducting most transactions.
Now, of course, there is no choice. In all likelihood, we’ve reached a tipping point. Brick and mortar will regain some traction when the pandemic finally wanes, but consumers have been irrevocably conditioned by the novel coronavirus. The signs are clear: ecommerce will dominate retail. While brands must exploit all channels and touchpoints to survive, digital commerce is and will remain ascendant.
In response, luxe brands are ramping up their digital assets. Executives and managers realize that their digital platforms can’t merely substitute for the in-store experience—they must replicate it to as great a degree as possible. They must convey that sense of ease, of sumptuousness, that customers felt in physical shops and department stores. So platforms have evolved rapidly during the pandemic, incorporating a wide range of features and options—including video-etailing and one-on-one personalized appointments—to enhance the ecommerce experience. Simultaneously, brand managers also have had to upgrade their platforms to assure ease of navigation, multiple payment options, and expanded loyalty programs.
That’s a lot of moving parts. And as with any complex system, problems can—make that will—occur. That invariably translates as excruciating pain for the brand. At such moments, the value of a reliable solution support partner becomes transcendently clear. Response times must be short, troubleshooting must be adroit, and fixes must be both quick and effective. There can be no excuses—especially where high-end brands are concerned. Simply put, the clientele for luxe goods expect high quality in both the products they buy and the ecommerce platforms they engage. A stellar brand can’t afford a deficient platform; digital glitches will erode customer satisfaction and confidence, ultimately driving shoppers away and revenues down.
Good solution support partners must provide a deep bench of engineers and specialists highly skilled in all aspects of ecommerce: front-end and back-end development, project management, web design, testing, and content production. Moreover, they can’t rely on formulaic responses to client problems. Every ecommerce platform is a unique and complex system, and any problems that develop will likewise be unique. The best support partners will avoid cookie-cutter solutions, providing bespoke resolutions to every problem. At the same time, the emphasis will be on elegant and cost-effective approaches that accommodate existing digital infrastructure rather than a reinvention of the wheel every time there’s a glitch or upgrade. Further, a good partner will know the client’s platform intimately and will be able to anticipate many problems before they occur; as with medicine, the best cure for an ecommerce problem is prevention.
Currently, some brands are finding that their solution support partners aren’t up to the challenges imposed by the pandemic. That’s a particularly alarming discovery for brands that must reposition their digital presence quickly. They not only need solution support partners that can address their needs once onboard—they need partners that can negotiate transitions seamlessly. A great deal of time, effort, and money can be expended on solution support transitions, a fact that can discourage the selection of a superior partner.
Inertia and equivocation, however, won’t solve solution support problems: only competent and diligent partners can do that. At Astound Commerce, solution support is a core mission. We work with many of the top brands in the world, assuring their digital platforms are always compelling, optimized, and up-to-date. We are always available, always responsive, and resolutely proactive. We don’t just fix your site when there’s a problem—we analyze, test, and monitor it to ensure problems are minimized. Your commerce, in short, is our commerce—we do not differentiate.