Luxury retailers have historically set themselves apart from ‘normal’ brands through their offline presence.
If you look at a store from a luxury brand, it sets itself apart thanks to great design and exclusive locations, as well as prices…
This isn’t always easy to recreate online, and some luxury brands have been unsure how to adapt to ecommerce.
Some have been reluctant to sell online at all, for fear of diluting the exclusivity that makes a luxury brand. Chanel, for example, has only recently begun to sell online.
A good luxury site should combine great design with user experience and a great all round service.
Ecommerce is a great equalizer though, so how can luxury brands create that exclusive look and feel?
Large homepage video
Many luxury sites use large videos. In the case of Rolex, the video takes over the whole screen as it shows high resolution images of products.
Video like this adds drama to the page, and does help to showcase products effectively.
There are some caveats with this though. Some web users dislike video, and if you do use it, make sure audio is switched off by default.
Very large photography
Using one or two large images produces a striking effect for visitors to the homepage, as
in this example from Burberry.
It’s calmer and less ‘busy’ than most ecommerce homepages, which normally show multiple products, along with promotions and other elements. It also brings the products into sharp focus.
Images which fill the browser
Using images that go right to the edge of the browser is another common luxury touch. Again, it puts the products front and centre.
It’s also the absence of certain common elements that add the luxury. The site is less cluttered for one, but the absence of common features like USP bars, offers and discounts tells the visitor that this is a luxury brand.
The latter point is important, as luxury can be partly about exclusivity and expense, and many believe that discounts detract from this.
Classic bold type for navigation options in another common element to add a luxury feel.
Zara isn’t a luxury brand but this shows that any brand can use the same techniques.
Use of icons
Luxury retailers often take a more stripped back approach to homepage design, and this often includes the use of icons only for key elements like login, help and shopping bags.
This can be a tricky one for luxury brands. In the past, some brands have gone for design at the cost of user experience.
However, luxury is supposed to be about exclusivity and being different is one way to do this.
Here’s an (extreme) example from Balenciaga, which manages to be different by removing most images from the site.
The site still works – the navigation makes sense and the checkout is easy enough to use- though you do miss the images when you browse.