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Toward the Boutique of the Future

Three takeaways from the Bain & Company x Comité Colbert Luxury and Technology Report

Last week, Bain & Company and Comité Colbert published their Luxury and Technology Report: Toward the Boutique of the Future. With a focus on the new ways luxury brands are leveraging technology in their boutiques, the report takes a deep dive into the future of brick-and-mortar retail. 

In-store experiences remain the epicenter of relationships between customers and brands, and these brick-and-mortar journeys still account for the majority of retail sales. Despite the rise in eCommerce, boutiques play an important role in a brand’s storytelling, and for consumers, the in-store experience offers exclusive access to the retailer’s universe. 

While it’s clear that consumers still value in-person experiences, their standards are rising. With access to more brands in more places, luxury retailers are having to find new ways to drive in-store traffic. From RFID to Virtual Reality, innovative retail solutions are elevating experiences, and connecting customer journeys across channels. 

Today, we’re sharing our three key takeaways from the Luxury and Technology report and uncovering how luxury retailers can use technology to build their boutiques of the future.

Luxury Consumers Expect In-Store Tech

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 75% of luxury shoppers across generations are ready to embrace in-store technology. For retailers, the challenge comes in determining exactly which solutions are right for their stores. In fact, interviewed luxury brands were unanimous in emphasizing that they do not incorporate technology to be fashionable but to achieve customer-focused objectives.

Today, even the most innovative retailers have only scratched the surface. With ongoing innovation in creating more experiential and personalized shopping journeys, retailers investing in cutting-edge in-store technology are constantly paving the future of luxury retail experiences.

The report calls special attention to Browns, the luxury, London-based multibrand boutique whose in-store and online experiences are powered by FARFETCH Platform Solutions (FPS). Created with the vision of bringing 'Luxury New Retail' to life, the Senior Head of Customer and Retail Innovation strategy at FARFETCH, Vishal Katelia notes that the in-store tech is “not about technology, but how to leverage tech to enrich the relationship between the customer, her stylist, and Browns to bring an extra layer of experience to the journey to create a personalized mini-store for every single customer."

With this mindset at the center of everything they do, the Browns website, apps, and in-store operations have formed the foundation of an industry-leading next-gen experience.

Consumer-Associate Relationships Drive Store Traffic 

Nothing compares to the service delivered by luxury sales associates in-boutique, and for 61% of luxury customers, these relationships are at the center of the in-store experience. It's clear that customers want to feel valued when they visit luxury boutiques, and in-store staff drive these experiences. 

Meeting luxury consumers' expectations, however, is becoming increasingly difficult. Bain & Company and Comité Colbert found that 58% of customers mention waiting as a source of frustration, and 47% cite product unavailability as their leading cause of disappointment in-store. 

To ensure these sales associates are empowered to deliver industry-leading experiences, luxury retailers are tapping new clienteling technology like the FARFETCH Platform Solutions Connected Retail App. With insight into live-inventory availability, customer preferences, and online appointment scheduling, in-store associates can minimize customer wait times and maximize their time spent in-store. 

At Browns, leadership has completely reimagined the role of the in-store associate with these tools. In addition to being salespeople, they act as important influencers for luxury consumers. Katelia adds, "Our team are a unique mix of ambassadors, community engagers who are fluent in articulating how to leverage tech to enrich the retail experience holistically. The connected experience is co-crafted with them.

With improved customer and product insight, associates can become experts in delivering expectation-exceeding customer journeys across touchpoints. 

Connected Devices Elevate Experiences 

The lines are blurring between on-and offline shopping experiences, and new technology is bringing the conveniences of eCommerce to the shop floor. 

With access to Connected Devices like tech-powered in-store displays and fitting-room mirrors, the report finds that brands are pushing the boundaries of product discovery with improved consumer insight. Leveraging these tools, consumers can seamlessly find product information, recommendations, and customization capabilities on the shop floor.

In addition to these functionalities, our FPS-powered Connected Retail solutions take the consumer-associate relationship a step further by enabling seamless connectivity between consumer applications, clienteling apps, and in-store devices. This means sales associates can elevate experiences by presenting styling suggestions to customers directly on their fitting-room mirrors while simultaneously enabling them to wishlist the items they’ve tried on in-store in their consumer apps.

An essential step in successfully implementing these tools is ensuring your retail staff is trained on their use. At FPS, we work closely with our clients before and after they launch Connected Devices to determine which solutions are suited to their customers, and how to best streamline the onboarding process for in-store associates. 

Bain & Company and Comité Colbert’s report makes clear that the future of luxury retail is driven by technological innovation. At FPS, we act as the technology enabler luxury brands need to bring these visions for connected retail experiences to consumers in-store, on their websites, and everywhere in between. 

To learn more about how you can create industry-leading experiences, contact us here.


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