Digital innovation in the luxury industry is evolving at a rapid pace and what luxury brands do next is a hot topic. So, we thought there was no better time than now to speak with seasoned digital luxury industry experts and ask them the questions we all want to know about the future of digital for the luxury industry. You can view the full collection of interviews here.
In this article, we catch up with Thomas Davis, Global Digital Operations Director for one of the world's most recognized luxury brands, Cartier. Thomas has been responsible for setting up and running global e-commerce operations at brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole Productions and PUMA. Since 2016 he has been dedicated to building out the digital and e-commerce operations of Cartier.
What do you think customers of luxury brands expect from the digital experience?
As you can imagine, most of our consumers today experience Cartier.com through the smartphone. Although desktop is still important to us, it is clearly a different experience and form factor for smartphones.
Therefore, our mobile customer experience needs to be fast, personalized and provide a simple and intuitive navigation in order for our customers to quickly discover our creations.
This first experience on our mobile site is a unique opportunity to engage. Like the old Head and Shoulders tag line, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This holds true for both our younger and older customers alike.
What initiatives have you prioritized to meet these expectations?
Digital personalization is a big priority right now. When I joined Cartier in 2016 there was a one-size-fits-all approach to digital experiences, and now we're prioritising becoming more personalized. It's important to identify people and show them appropriate content at the appropriate time.
My team develops and operates digital solutions which service not only clients but also our employees, so we need to be sure we are delivering world class solutions no matter the audience.
For example, it's about understanding that not everyone who visits our site is coming to buy a watch or order an engagement ring. Some people come to our website for inspiration, education or just to dream. Cartier.com is available in over 80 different markets and we need to serve those different types of consumers with personalized the experiences.
Further, when we look at internal solutions our teams want speed, scalability, and accuracy. They want simple user interfaces to quickly find the information that s/he needs to service a client or a partner. They ask to trade elegant designs in favor of quick and intuitive interfaces that deliver the needed information in a matter of seconds rather than a multi-step interface which takes more time and effort to navigate.
Is there a specific digital experience you have built that has been especially successful?
Yes. We developed a proprietary application we call myCatalog. It’s a one-stop application that supports our sales associates with universal overview of all our creations. The application can look up product information, prices, stock, availability throughout the network, perform a stock transfer and also has the unique capability to recognize a product through a technology similar to facial recognition.
This application has replaced an archaic process that consisted of looking up product information in a PDF folder. This former process could take 10-15 minutes to locate and find details about a product. Now with myCatalog our store associates can pull up the exact information in a matter of seconds.
Not only is this a success story from an application standpoint, but the genesis of the product came from direct feedback from our store associates. They identified an area of frustration and we were able to develop and deploy the MVP in 30 days. It's been such an amazing success and registers more than 50K product lookups per week.
The enablement of this app and of achieving cartier.com as it is today is powered in large part by Occtoo’s Experience Data Platform. The contents, products and prices are coming through from Occtoo. By using Occtoo's real-time and purpose-built Experience APIs we area also able to very quickly deploy proof of concepts/MVP's for new ideas. It's really a game changer for our ability to innovate.
If you were to give one piece advice to someone working with digital experience in the luxury industry, what would it be?
Since I do not come from a traditional luxury background, I feel that a key success factor is understanding not only the product or creations you are trying to promote but more importantly I feel it’s important to understand your customers’ motivations (clients and employees). Therefore, listening is the advice I would give.
Since my team develops solution not only customer but also employees, listening through data, feedbacks and subjective interviews can help identify opportunities to develop a world class digital experience.
Digital experience for luxury brands no longer needs to mean a lack of service, personalization, and exclusivity. Nor should digital experience be restricted to eCommerce. The overarching message from our experts is that for luxury brands to succeed in digital, they must find a way to create a unique experience, laced with the heritage and beauty that their brand is renowned for. Once the digital experience has been identified, then it becomes a matter of how you integrate the data for a true omnichannel journey.
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