Luxury brands have an aggregate score of 77 on the study's 100-point scale, falling just short of the average score of the top 100 online retailers overall (78). Coach and Tiffany & Co. lead the Index, tied with 80, which is generally considered the threshold for excellence. Saks and Nordstrom tie for second at 79, still well above the Luxury Index aggregate of 77. Brooks Brothers (76) is at the bottom of the measured luxury brands, but still close to the aggregate. Subscription and flash sale sites Rue La La (73) and Gilt (72) round out the bottom of the Index, due to the registration or subscriptions required to see the content of the site. A survey given solely to subscribers of these sites would likely result in a slightly higher satisfaction score for websites with that business model.
Meanwhile, non-luxury retailer Amazon registered a score of 88 in a similar study, meaning even the best luxury sites are still not measuring up to the very best online experiences. Since almost everyone shops at Amazon, customer expectations are being set at a level not yet achieved by any of these luxury e-retailers.
"Luxury retailers have some catching up to do with mainstream retailers in terms of measuring the customer experience across all channels and using that data and analysis to impact strategic, tactical, and operational decision making at the highest level," said Larry Freed, author of the study and president and CEO of ForeSee. "While there are a few exceptions, the customer experience is still playing a very tactical role in many of these companies, and there is an opportunity for these analytics to be valuable and actionable at so many levels."
According to the survey of more than 3,500 luxury shoppers, more luxury brand shoppers (36 percent) are using mobile than non-luxury brand shoppers (25 percent) to research products, compare products or prices, purchase product, or use a company's mobile app.
Mobile is a huge area of opportunity of any retailer, but particularly for a luxury brand," said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee. "Our study shows that luxury brand shoppers are already adopting the mobile channel faster than non-luxury brand shoppers. It's now up to those retailers to deliver what luxury customers want from mobile in order to keep them coming back to the brand and to influence purchases across all channels."
When it comes to purchase decisions, 41 percent of visitors to a site indicated that the price of a product was too high, but the study's methodology shows that merchandise and site functionality - not price - are the highest priorities for improvement with luxury brands. While priorities vary by brand, 71 percent of sites will increase customer satisfaction by improving merchandise, and 43 percent of site will see more return on investment from improving site functionality.
"You can't rely just on customer feedback when making strategic decisions," added Freed. "Customers always complain about price; they always want a better deal, even at luxury retailers. If you're using a methodology that can actually calculate the impacts of different elements"”like price, merchandise, or functionality"”on satisfaction, then you can begin to make effective decisions that are proactive and not just reactive."
The full report can be downloaded for free, click here.
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