Carolina Herrera is tapping into the mobile revolution to get closer to its best customers.
The brand on Thursday will begin to test Herrera Style, an exclusive app that will better connect sales associates with their luxury shoppers. The app will officially launch later this month.
This story first appeared in the August 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Consumers must be invited to download the private service, which is the first to use digital agency King & Partner’s Iras Style Concierge software for a personal shopping app.
Once the app is downloaded, sales associates in Carolina Herrera boutiques can use it to interact with their clients — sharing images of new looks, inviting them to trunk shows and other events or just communicating one-on-one about wardrobe development.
The app is tailored specifically for each client and targets Carolina Herrera’s top customers. It’s a pretty rarefied group and while the brand declined to say how much they spend on average, some of these high-net-worth shoppers could no doubt rack up bills of more than a hundred thousand dollars per year at the fashion house.
“We know that the sales associates are communicating with their customers on mobile devices,” said Caroline Brown, president of Carolina Herrera. “It’s a given with how they do business now.”
Brown described the app as “a tech tool that is fully adapted to [the] brick-and-mortar” experience.
The app is Carolina Herrera’s effort to deliver a luxury experience digitally, serving customers in a way that’s less cumbersome than e-mails or texts with less-than-perfect images, Brown explained. It builds on the close relationship that develops between a customer and a sales associate — who over time, gets to know a customer’s individual style and size requirements. The app creates visuals of a consumer’s existing Carolina Herrera wardrobe so associate and client can refer back to items they already own, allowing them to build piece upon piece.
Brown said the company is “very happy” with the relationships it maintains with its third-party e-commerce partners such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue — noting that she doesn’t see this as primarily an e-commerce initiative but as “a development of the client connection.”
It’s also useful in strengthening relationships with shoppers based in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. With the click of a button, they can purchase anything they see on the app, even if the nearest Carolina Herrera boutique is thousands of miles away.
“The purpose of this tool is not just about immediate growth and sales,” Brown said. “We do believe there will be incremental growth, but it’s about better servicing the customer. If we do that, there is an incremental effect.”
The company has spent the past year expanding its digital footprint, primarily through social media. It’s Instagram followers have nearly tripled since last summer to almost 220,000, and a bridal-centric Pinterest contest last year urged fans to enter for a chance to have a wedding dress fitting with Carolina Herrera herself, as well as to have their wedding featured in Town & Country magazine.
Brown said that taking a more localized approach and launching a presence on social channels by region is a key digital strategy for 2015.
Tony King, founder of King & Partners, said that Iras Style Concierge can be the basis of a brand’s app or be built into an existing app. When the software was originally conceptualized in 2012, sales associates would have only had the ability to send product recommendations that the consumer had to pick up in-store. But as King showed the software to brands, it became obvious that in addition to the user’s ability to reserve an item (it gets taken off the shelves and is reserved for 48 hours), it must be able to be purchased via the app and either have it delivered or picked up at a store.
“Brands now have the ability to see into the sales associates’ little black book. They get to see what was sent to whom and when and track the purchase of these items. Brands can measure the success of sales associates,” King said, adding that brands across the spectrum could benefit from personal shopping apps.
“Every brand has a top tier of clients,” he said. “It should be part of the tool kit that digital brands have to assess and see how they want to use it.”