[Investigation] What’s new in Luxury Retail? (Part 3/4)

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As seen in the first part, department stores and luxury boutiques compete in ingenuity to capture the attention of their customers and arouse their desire. More than a scenographic design, it is about knowing and serving the customer better. In this field, they can make the difference with e-commerce platforms unable to provide a wide range of emotions born of a unique, memorable, and fundamentally human customer experience.

 

Dive into the heart of retail, the historical model of luxury distribution, in the light of the post-Covid era and the extended virtual worlds of Web 3.

 

The sales advisor: spearheading luxury clienteling 3.0

 

As the first line of defense in the 2020-2022 period, with the unexpected closure of points of sale, the sales advisor is more than ever at the heart of the luxury customer experience. A return to the basics that goes hand in hand with customers’ thirst for human contact. To guarantee excellence in execution and the quality of the relationship, luxury brands are now focusing on the symmetry of attention by increasing the skills of their retail teams. To guarantee an exceptional and memorable customer experience, sales consultants must be properly trained and aligned with the values of the brand.

 

In direct contact with customers, the advisor remains the holder of rare and precious knowledge: the fears and desires of luxury customers.

 

Despite this crucial role as ambassador of the House and guarantor of the customer’s delight, job offers in retail are hard to convince. This is also true for young graduates of business and marketing schools. However, this does not consider that such courses are career gas pedals, especially for marketing positions.

 

This is a major problem for a luxury industry that has become considerably “retailized” over the last thirty years. During the previous Me & You Discovery Day dedicated to exceptional professions, Chantal Gaemperle, Director of Human Resources and Synergies for the LVMH group, confirmed that there is a shortage of this profile, in addition to that of craftsmen.

 

It must be said that the profession has remained associated with an unflattering image inherited from the post-war period. A period marked by rationing and almost non-existent international competition. But unlike consumer products – capable of selling themselves according to the precepts of marketing – luxury goods, on the other hand, have always made their assisted sales a strength.

 

However, the unattractive salary and long working hours are other recurrent stumbling blocks. Fortunately, there are ways to improve.

 

The sales consultant: a central role

 

To enhance the profession, potential candidates and all departments must be made aware of the central role of the sales consultant in the luxury experience. This is why many brands have launched their own training schools, to harmonize know-how and further professionalize the sales ceremony. The latest initiative is the opening by Hermès in 2022 of a store-school dedicated to its sales staff. This will be based on the same model as the much more widespread establishments dedicated to craftsmanship.

 

The profession, faced with a rise in digital usage, must accept the fact that the House’s e-commerce site is, first and foremost, a complementary sales channel for the in-store consultant and not a competitor. In a positive way, perhaps we should see this as a change of profession for this advisor, who becomes a kind of “personal shopper” for whom the mastery of social networks and data becomes essential to shaping a seamless customer experience. Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope) points out that the salesperson’s and buyer’s personal mobile has gained a prominent place in the in-store experience.

 

The director of Harrods department store – present at the NRF – does not say otherwise to justify his partnership with Farfetch. For him, “reproducing through digital everything the customer wants with a personal shopper, establishing customer knowledge through their purchases, predicting their needs and behaviors before the customer even knows it will be the next big thing.”

 

© Gucci

 

Aware of the importance of this new skill, the LVMH group has launched a Data Academy in partnership with the Data & Business Albert School. The challenge is to raise awareness of the collection and management of AI-related data among all employees, from executives to managers and field teams.

 

The advent of the “Welcomer”

 

For Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope), more than a personal shopper, the salesperson is being invested in the role of “welcomer,” i.e., part shopper, part greeter. Here, soft skills such as empathy, listening, and mastery of informal discussion (small talk) become as important, if not more so, than the sales techniques themselves.

 

As confirmed by Sabine Temin, founder of LUXURYTAIL, a consultancy firm specializing in luxury retail training and codes, it is not easy to be a good sales advisor in the luxury industry these days: not only do you have to know everything about the collections, new products, and future launches, but you also have to be genuinely interested in the tastes of both visitors and customers in order to suggest cultural outings that might interest them.

 

According to her, “sales consultants must move away from mere technical know-how. They know the collections, the names of the products, and the history behind them. But they forget to tell the customer. And anything that is not said does not exist for the customer.”

 

The customer relationship now operates from the visit to the point of sale to the after-sales service while it aims to inform and entertain as well as maintain the link.

 

Luxury clienteling

 

The quality of what we call “luxury clienteling” made all the difference at Covid. Indeed, sales outlets that had long favored their distant clientele, suddenly deprived of their usual Chinese tourists, had to find new growth drivers. Some brands such as Céline (LVMH), Longchamp, and Hermès could rely on their closer relationship with local customers to increase their desirability rating and financial performance.

 

© Burberry

 

For Delphine Vitry (Cabinet MAD), the sales advisor plays a central role in scaling up the luxury customer experience:The challenge is to bring together a maximum number of conditions that will ensure that this emotion, shaped in the image of the House, will be able to occur and reproduce itself countless times, for each customer, in the four corners of the world.”

 

Based on a series of mystery shopper visits conducted in Paris with more than 200 luxury boutiques, Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope) confirms the decisive impact of the sales advisor in the feeling of the experience: “Even if the boutique offers Instagrammable design and architecture… nearly 90% of the experience will remain linked to the personality and attention marks of the salesperson.”

 

Remuneration

 

Another area of attractiveness for the sector is remuneration. And in this area, the luxury sector must also make efforts. Beyond salary and bonuses, Sabine Temin suggests introducing a gift culture within the teams. Not only is this a sign of recognition, but also a way to better understand their customers. “The notion of reward is, in my opinion, not sufficiently developed in luxury retail on the team side, whereas it is omnipresent in the customer relationship,” she says.  For example, in the hotel industry, it would mean offering employees a night’s stay in a suite or, in the watchmaking industry, allowing them to visit the workshops. Thus, the experience lived by the advisor remains the best way to restore the experience that the customer can expect in all its completeness.

 

For Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope), another way of serving the luxury experience – like the professionalism of the teams – would be to measure performance. For example, this would mean abandoning sales as the main performance indicator in favor of the number of hands shaken in a day.

 

© Hennessy Espace à la Samaritaine (LVMH)

Benevolence

 

Finally, Sabine Temin (LUXURYTAIL) draws attention to the importance of benevolence towards retail teams to limit the turnover rate. According to her, you have to be interested in them, talk to them, and respect them, as Moët Hennessy (LVMH) does very well by organizing brunches for its retail teams in training. “It seems inconceivable to me that some companies, which require their sales teams to master the codes of luxury, do not offer them the slightest attention during their training sessions,” she explains.

 

This retail challenge is all the more important as sales ceremonies are conquering virtual worlds that have nothing to envy to e-commerce platforms or social networks, trapped in a terribly web2 logic.

 

Read also > [Investigation] What’s new in Luxury Retail? (Part 2/4)

Featured photo : ©Gucci[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row njt-role=”not-logged-in”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

As seen in the first part, department stores and luxury boutiques compete in ingenuity to capture the attention of their customers and arouse their desire. More than a scenographic design, it is about knowing and serving the customer better. In this field, they can make the difference with e-commerce platforms unable to provide a wide range of emotions born of a unique, memorable, and fundamentally human customer experience.

 

Dive into the heart of retail, the historical model of luxury distribution, in the light of the post-Covid era and the extended virtual worlds of Web 3.

 

The sales advisor: spearheading luxury clienteling 3.0

 

As the first line of defense in the 2020-2022 period, with the unexpected closure of points of sale, the sales advisor is more than ever at the heart of the luxury customer experience. A return to the basics that goes hand in hand with customers’ thirst for human contact. To guarantee excellence in execution and the quality of the relationship, luxury brands are now focusing on the symmetry of attention by increasing the skills of their retail teams. To guarantee an exceptional and memorable customer experience, sales consultants must be properly trained and aligned with the values of the brand.

 

In direct contact with customers, the advisor remains the holder of rare and precious knowledge: the fears and desires of luxury customers.

 

Despite this crucial role as ambassador of the House and guarantor of the customer’s delight, job offers in retail are hard to convince. This is also true for young graduates of business and marketing schools. However, this does not consider that such courses are career gas pedals, especially for marketing positions.

 

This is a major problem for a luxury industry that has become considerably “retailized” over the last thirty years. During the previous Me & You Discovery Day dedicated to exceptional professions, Chantal Gaemperle, Director of Human Resources and Synergies for the LVMH group, confirmed that there is a shortage of this profile, in addition to that of craftsmen.

 

It must be said that the profession has remained associated with an unflattering image inherited from the post-war period. A period marked by rationing and almost non-existent international competition. But unlike consumer products – capable of selling themselves according to the precepts of marketing – luxury goods, on the other hand, have always made their assisted sales a strength.

 

However, the unattractive salary and long working hours are other recurrent stumbling blocks. Fortunately, there are ways to improve.

 

The sales consultant: a central role

 

To enhance the profession, potential candidates and all departments must be made aware of the central role of the sales consultant in the luxury experience. This is why many brands have launched their own training schools, to harmonize know-how and further professionalize the sales ceremony. The latest initiative is the opening by Hermès in 2022 of a store-school dedicated to its sales staff. This will be based on the same model as the much more widespread establishments dedicated to craftsmanship.

 

The profession, faced with a rise in digital usage, must accept the fact that the House’s e-commerce site is, first and foremost, a complementary sales channel for the in-store consultant and not a competitor. In a positive way, perhaps we should see this as a change of profession for this advisor, who becomes a kind of “personal shopper” for whom the mastery of social networks and data becomes essential to shaping a seamless customer experience. Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope) points out that the salesperson’s and buyer’s personal mobile has gained a prominent place in the in-store experience.

 

The director of Harrods department store – present at the NRF – does not say otherwise to justify his partnership with Farfetch. For him, “reproducing through digital everything the customer wants with a personal shopper, establishing customer knowledge through their purchases, predicting their needs and behaviors before the customer even knows it will be the next big thing.”

 

© Gucci

 

 

 

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As seen in the first part, department stores and luxury boutiques compete in ingenuity to capture the attention of their customers and arouse their desire. More than a scenographic design, it is about knowing and serving the customer better. In this field, they can make the difference with e-commerce platforms unable to provide a wide range of emotions born of a unique, memorable, and fundamentally human customer experience.

 

Dive into the heart of retail, the historical model of luxury distribution, in the light of the post-Covid era and the extended virtual worlds of Web 3.

 

The sales advisor: spearheading luxury clienteling 3.0

 

As the first line of defense in the 2020-2022 period, with the unexpected closure of points of sale, the sales advisor is more than ever at the heart of the luxury customer experience. A return to the basics that goes hand in hand with customers’ thirst for human contact. To guarantee excellence in execution and the quality of the relationship, luxury brands are now focusing on the symmetry of attention by increasing the skills of their retail teams. To guarantee an exceptional and memorable customer experience, sales consultants must be properly trained and aligned with the values of the brand.

 

In direct contact with customers, the advisor remains the holder of rare and precious knowledge: the fears and desires of luxury customers.

 

Despite this crucial role as ambassador of the House and guarantor of the customer’s delight, job offers in retail are hard to convince. This is also true for young graduates of business and marketing schools. However, this does not consider that such courses are career gas pedals, especially for marketing positions.

 

This is a major problem for a luxury industry that has become considerably “retailized” over the last thirty years. During the previous Me & You Discovery Day dedicated to exceptional professions, Chantal Gaemperle, Director of Human Resources and Synergies for the LVMH group, confirmed that there is a shortage of this profile, in addition to that of craftsmen.

 

It must be said that the profession has remained associated with an unflattering image inherited from the post-war period. A period marked by rationing and almost non-existent international competition. But unlike consumer products – capable of selling themselves according to the precepts of marketing – luxury goods, on the other hand, have always made their assisted sales a strength.

 

However, the unattractive salary and long working hours are other recurrent stumbling blocks. Fortunately, there are ways to improve.

 

The sales consultant: a central role

 

To enhance the profession, potential candidates and all departments must be made aware of the central role of the sales consultant in the luxury experience. This is why many brands have launched their own training schools, to harmonize know-how and further professionalize the sales ceremony. The latest initiative is the opening by Hermès in 2022 of a store-school dedicated to its sales staff. This will be based on the same model as the much more widespread establishments dedicated to craftsmanship.

 

The profession, faced with a rise in digital usage, must accept the fact that the House’s e-commerce site is, first and foremost, a complementary sales channel for the in-store consultant and not a competitor. In a positive way, perhaps we should see this as a change of profession for this advisor, who becomes a kind of “personal shopper” for whom the mastery of social networks and data becomes essential to shaping a seamless customer experience. Nicolas Rebet (Retailoscope) points out that the salesperson’s and buyer’s personal mobile has gained a prominent place in the in-store experience.

 

The director of Harrods department store – present at the NRF – does not say otherwise to justify his partnership with Farfetch. For him, “reproducing through digital everything the customer wants with a personal shopper, establishing customer knowledge through their purchases, predicting their needs and behaviors before the customer even knows it will be the next big thing.”

 

© Gucci

 

 

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Picture of Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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