LONDON — “What can you do in seven seconds?”
Michael Kliger, president of Mytheresa.com, said that’s roughly how much time an online retailer has to engage a customer on her smartphone, upping the ante for creating compelling content and ensuring a seamless transaction experience.
“She tells us what she’s interested in and she tells us adamantly that she wants to browse and shop on her smartphone and we have to adapt to it,” the executive said. “We believe the customer need is essentially about convenience.”
Unique in its focus on elite luxury brands for women only, the Munich-based e-tailer knows it has limited windows of opportunities to seize its customer’s attention.
The fact that women in Paris, London and Milan — cities with high concentrations of luxury boutiques — shop at Mytheresa.com suggests that the online channel is a time-saver and an indulgence for working mothers.
“She has a passion for fashion. The only thing she doesn’t have is time,” Kliger said, describing one common opportunity as the end of the day in bed, “husband sleeping, 30 minutes on the iPad.”
Citing a Google study, Kliger stated 69 percent of consumers say convenience is the most important reason for buying luxury products online. Sixty percent also lauded that buying line can be done anytime, anywhere, with no stress.
“The Web site needs to be simple and easy to navigate. We are not a magazine,” Kliger said, stressing that the site design is driven by the customer need “to quickly find the product and quickly buy. This is the segment we try to serve. Packaging, shipping, customer services. This is so important. You don’t put your customer on hold and play stupid music to her. You pick the call up after three to four seconds.That’s our service level agreement. Ninety-six percent of calls must be picked up after three and a half seconds and we take this seriously.”
Founded as a physical boutique by the Botschen family in Munich in 1987, Theresa went digital in 2006, trumpeting its “boutiquelike shopping experience” based on the “finest edit in luxury fashion.”
“A real retailer angle, curating and editing,” Kliger stressed.
The company now employs about 300 people and in 2014 was acquired by Neiman Marcus Group. “We couldn’t be more happy with an owner that understands us so well. Also, they not only understand luxury, they also understand digital because Neiman Direct was one of the very first [online] businesses and, to this day, is one of the prime examples of a large business as part of a brick-and-mortar operator.
“We see ourselves as part of the luxury fashion industry,” he continued. “If you ask what our business is based on, it’s not on technology. What it is based on is relationships with the most prestigious brands in the industry.”
Kliger acknowledged that the share of digital in luxury is “still very low” — about 8 percent of the global market in 2015, according to McKinsey data. But he is confident that it can quickly assume a 20 to 30 percent share. “All the debates are over: All categories will go digital,” he said. “Even for the next three or four years, the digital luxury market will triple or quadruple so we are operating in a very nice space,” he said, while noting that “there is very intense competition to satisfy best the customer need out there.”
To that end, the e-tailer closely monitors customer feedback.
“I myself read every Friday the weekly customer feedback and she writes a lot,” Kliger said. “She writes compliment but she also writes critique and it is so helpful. We got so many good ideas from our customers. I can tell you, when they don’t write to you anymore, you know it, it’s over.”