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When purchasing luxury items customers expect a premium, emotive experience. Jake Welsh, executive creative director at Dept, explains how luxury brands need marry storytelling to build brand affinity.

Different types of products are memorable and purchased more than others because of how they’re designed, packaged, marketed and sold to consumers.

Marketplaces were built perfectly for obtaining commodity items but their value-proposition is expanding to cater to brands across the product spectrum. As consumer behaviour evolves rapidly into the digital space, these retailing platforms are maintaining their dominant market position by blurring the lines between FMCG and luxury brands.


Designed for a one-stop-shop

If you look at Amazon from a design perspective, it’s a basic grid layout placing the user’s complete focus on the path to purchase, thus, discouraging users from reading, exploring or building a connection with brands or its products. This simplicity has streamlined the shopping experience to assist users with making the purchasing they logged on for, with temptations of impulse add-ons, but this layout doesn’t promote the big-ticket items. In a sea of sameness, it’s difficult for luxury to stand out.

Amazon has now released A+ and A+ premium pages for store owners to better communicate their advantages with a storytelling page design that’s getting utilised by more luxury brands to unlock the value Amazon provides. High-end luxury Danish consumer electronics company, Bang Olufsen is a leader in customer experience both in-store and from a brand storytelling point of view. And they’re now also one of the top sellers on Amazon.

It could be possible, if Amazon continues to advance its marketplace with new functionality for different types of sellers, it could become the ultimate one-stop shopping experience.


Technical advancements move marketplaces forward

Niche marketplaces are popping up in every sector and, like their mainstream counterparts, they’re the leading source for e-commerce. As digital-first businesses, these platforms are early adopters in incorporating the latest technology to showcase products online in revolutionary formats.

For instance, Wayfair’s app has a ‘View in Room 3D’ feature, which lets users take a photo of their room and then see various products added virtually in place. The technology understands the spatial information of the room in the image, giving the user an AR-like experience using your photo, and allowing them to walk around and manipulate these 3D models.

Similarly, YooxMirror launched as the first AI-powered virtual styling suite powered by fashion-conscious avatar Daisy designed to target millennials. New functionality now enables consumers to develop their own 3D personalised avatar, by taking a selfie or uploading a photograph. Users can create outfits to see how clothes and accessories would look on them, as well as share their favourite looks with friends on social media.

Brands independently may not be able to keep up or need to invest in this level of technical innovation in their own digital estate when they’re able to forge partnerships with merchandising platforms.


The value of discovery

The discovery phase has become so important with online shopping, as consumers jump from one website to the next comparing prices, specs, reviews, pictures, and so on. This behaviour is consistent across the product spectrum with the number of consumer touchpoints increasing with the higher the price tag.

Marketplaces are paving the way for products to be found as consumers expect. For FMCG, that’s next to similar items with a seamless comparison tool and the option to upgrade for next day delivery. Meanwhile, luxury brands are turning to marketplaces to boost their online persona by reaffirming their storyline.

Net-a-porter brilliantly fuses commerce with world-class editorial. Its inspirational interviews are partnered with glossy photoshoots that customers can shop directly from. The platform has attracted more than 800 of the world's most coveted designer brands, including Gucci and Prada.

QVC continuously bolsters its brand to meet today’s consumer needs and has evolved into one of the world’s largest multi-platform retailers. Through harnessing the power of influencers, social media shopping and e-commerce, QVC continues to attract a roster of iconic brands, from Apple to L’Occitane, Dyson to Lulu Guinness.

It seems luxury brands are increasingly taking a page from the FMCG playbook by leveraging marketplaces as a vital part of their commerce strategy. With the luxury consumer getting younger and more diverse, could these two sectors find more in common? It’s time for brands to stop thinking about marketplaces as a transactional platform but rather a critical part of their commerce strategy.


Jake Welsh, executive creative director at Dept.