How One Luxury Retailer is Catering to Customer Interests


How One Luxury Retailer is Catering to Customer Interests

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  January 14, 2013

This article originally appeared in the DEC. 2012 issue of CUSTOMER Magazine.

Barneys, one of the biggest names in luxury retail, recently unveiled an entirely redesigned website. The effort aims to build brand and enable social communications in a way that, while not targeted at individual shoppers, speaks to the specific interests of the store’s clientele.

MediaPost recently recognized Barneys with two OMMA awards for Best Retail Site and Best Online Integrated Campaign (in fashion/retail). Take a look, if you get a chance, and see if this is a winner in your book. It has a nice design, a fair amount of content, but not much new in the way of functionality. However, it does offer insight into how this retailer is leveraging content and culture to build loyalty for its stores and the products they sell.

The new Barneys site and a sub-site called The Window provide commentary from leading brands like Manolo Blahnik, whose Word on the Street section offers famous quotes on the iconic shoes. In sections called Tastemakers and Under the Influence, fashion and culture personalities like designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offer inspirations, product selections and personal reflections. The Window also houses videos, interactive look books, and interviews with designers. Barneys reports that the Influencer platform had 627,000 visitors on the first day.

Matthew Woolsey, senior vice president of digital for Barneys New York, said that many question how and whether social media can drive luxury sales. Barneys is trying to do so by emphasizing inspiration, quality and style.

“As we continue to increase our content production and output that education about craftsmanship and design, and that engagement and exploration, is really so core to the luxury space” where people are shopping based on quality over price, Woolsey said.

Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York, added: “The new site elevates the social shopping experience, offering an intuitive and sophisticated platform for our customers to curate, shop and share. Rather than suggest what customers might like or want through wish lists and impersonal algorithms, we’re offering a unique and curated point of view from our trusted influencers – along with a refined set of tools for customers to shop socially in a digital luxury environment.”

Saying that high-end retail customers have a high penetration of smartphones and tablets, Woolsey added that Barneys recently launched a HTML5 mobile site to make the mobile experience transcend the regular online experience. Barneys, he said, is seeing a two to three time growth year over year in mobile engagement and affiliate engagement.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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