The Most Personal, Luxury Shopping Experience is on Mobile

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Published on
Nov 4, 2022
Written by
Jen Brett
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If you're managing marketing programs for a luxury brand, SMS can help you deliver what your customers want. Take it from APL and Ulla Johnson.

In the US, luxury e-commerce sales rose by 40.4% in 2020 and nearly 50% in 2021. Shifting behaviors brought on by the pandemic are partially responsible for fueling this growth. Consumers who were used to purchasing luxury goods in-store didn’t have that option for a while, and started shopping online instead. 

Others moved from major cities with luxury stores to smaller metro areas where online shopping became the gateway to accessing these goods. 

Broader trends have also had an impact, with a growing number of shoppers becoming more aware of environmental sustainability and aiming to invest in fewer—but  higher-quality—products that would last for longer. 

There’s one other major factor that's driven luxury shopping to move online: a new generation of consumers with notable spending power. Millennials and Gen Z will account for 70% of the luxury market by 2025, and they'll contribute 130% to the luxury market growth. 

As digital natives, they have different expectations of how they want to shop, interact with brands, and access customer service. They expect a modern online service experience that still feels personalized to them. And with mobile use so high among millennials and Gen Z for a range of activities, conversational SMS as a core engagement channel is a no-brainer. 

SMS allows brands to take advantage of the convenience and speed of the mobile channel, with greater access to customer insights, allowing for further personalization through data.

For luxury brands, adopting SMS opens an opportunity to rethink and rebuild the buying experience for everyone—from mostly in-store to mobile-first—while retaining the luxury of 1:1 interactions and stunning marketing visuals. 

Shoppers increasingly turn to mobile for online purchases, but need a better checkout experience

The use of mobile devices for online luxury shopping among US consumers increased significantly between 2018 and 2021. The largest growth came from online shoppers aged 18 to 39—or millennials and Gen Z. 

About 61% of affluent buyers in that age range preferred using mobile devices for their online luxury purchases, whereas around 42% of those aged 40 and over preferred mobile. 

Improvements to mobile payment options over the last few years have made buying online easier than ever, and more secure. And now, with Text-to-Buy with Shop Pay, brands can offer the frictionless mobile checkout consumers want. Your SMS subscribers can place an order and securely pay for it by simply replying to your message with a keyword.

Such buying options offer the ultimate in convenience and speed, which is why luxury performance footwear brand APL activated Text-to-Buy with Shop Pay, and allows their subscribers to purchase directly in response to a text message without having to navigate to their website or checkout page.

The best sales associate is in your pocket

Luxury brands are known for providing exceptional personal customer service in stores.

But the traditional mobile experience of mobile websites and apps often left much to be desired when it came to personalization, customer support, and ease of use for luxury shoppers. 

SMS is changing that mobile experience, and is the ideal channel for direct customer interaction. The channel's ease of use and immediate nature helps luxury brands provide 1:1 clienteling interactions mimicking the in-store experience. 

Many brands are even starting to use SMS as an extension of their CX team by sending real-time, personalized responses directly to customers, similar to the in-store associate. 

In early 2020, APL was looking for a better way to connect with their increasingly mobile-first shoppers. SMS stood out as a channel that could help them reach shoppers at home and on- the-go in a more curated way throughout the shopping journey. The personalized and 1:1 nature of text messaging let them replicate traditional in-store luxury experiences for their customers online. 

With Attentive, APL can quickly reply 1:1 to every single message they receive. They see the Conversations tab within Attentive’s platform as an extension of their CX team, since they can respond directly to customers via text messaging.

APL text message two-way conversation

Make your customers feel special, and your messaging feel personalized

A personalized customer experience is critical to customer loyalty and retention. While SMS used to be considered more of a “batch and blast” marketing channel, it’s become much more sophisticated, and is now seen as a highly curated and personalized conversational channel. 

By creating segments based on first-party data like geo-location, past shopping history, or browsing behavior, you can send personalized messages to your subscribers that contain only the most relevant content and offers. 

Take for example APL: 25%+ of their SMS subscribers have made 3+ purchases. To achieve these results, APL branches on their browse and cart abandonment journeys to tailor the customer journey based on a subscriber’s level of intent to make a purchase: 

  • Subscribers who add to cart two or more times get an abandoned cart reminder with an exclusive “VIP” offer to help get them over the finish line. 
  • Subscribers who only browse products once get a different version of the abandonment message—without an offer—encouraging them to come back and make a purchase. 

This luxury marketing strategy allows APL to get more out of their discounts by only offering them to their high-intent shoppers who are most likely to convert. 

Another way you can personalize your SMS efforts is by gathering zero-party data and other subscriber insights through conversational questions and quizzes. These types of text messages let you learn more about subscriber preferences, interests, and more. 

You can combine this zero- and first-party data to further personalize the buying experience and identify new ways to make your customers feel valued and connected to your brand.

Luxury fashion brand Ulla Johnson understands that their top customers want to feel special. Knowing their SMS subscribers are their biggest fans and advocates, Ulla Johnson uses text messaging to share early access to shop new products and seasonal launches.

Their subscribers are the first to hear about sales, promotions, and the latest news—and they love the exclusive engagement that comes with being a subscriber.


Luxury brands don't need to sacrifice stunning marketing for SMS

Luxury brands are known for some of the most visually stunning marketing campaigns. Communicating with consumers via SMS doesn't mean forsaking any of that. 

SMS is a truly curated channel with your brand owning the “feed” of messages. You get to manage the experience of what subscribers see and read from your brand, and when—and without interference from surrounding ads or posts. 

That paired with the use of images, GIFs, and even videos to maintain and convey your brand’s image are just a few things that make SMS an effective and engaging channel for luxury brand marketing. 

For example, Ulla Johnson uses visually stunning GIFs in their text messages to promote their upcoming runway shows. They also use high-quality photography—similar to what you’d find on their website or Instagram—to showcase their products to SMS subscribers.

examples of Ulla Johnson text message marketing

Meanwhile, APL uses SMS marketing across the lifecycle, including triggered messages—such as welcome messages, abandoned browse, cart, and checkout reminders, back-in-stock alerts, and transactional messages—as well as weekly limited edition product drop campaign messages. 

Each text message they send highlights their in-house product photography by including an image or GIF.  The brand also uses colorful emojis and carefully crafted copy to align with their brand voice.

text message marketing examples from APL

For luxury brands, the importance of mobile only grows: almost all of the growth in personal luxury retail sales will come from e-commerce by 2026 in the US. SMS opens up so much opportunity for luxury brands to deliver personalized and convenient mobile shopping experiences for consumers. 

Learn more about the SMS features luxury brands are using—such as Attentive Concierge™ and Text-to-Buy powered by Shop Pay—to improve the shopping experience.

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