LONDON — Yoox Net-a-porter is making a bigger push into customer service in its luxury division, which includes Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter, with plans to double its personal shopping teams with up to 100 new hires globally, WWD has learned.
It also plans to open dedicated personal shopping and customer relation hubs in regions where the service is in high demand, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas. An announcement is expected today.
The company said this is the biggest client-relations recruitment drive in its history, and is part of a “localization strategy” that aims to tailor its EIP, or extremely important people, service to each region and its corresponding lifestyle.
“The role of personal shopper has evolved hugely in recent years and today our team fulfills a variety of different roles,” said Alison Loehnis, president of the luxury division at YNAP. “Not only do they anticipate our customers’ ever-changing luxury needs and solve their wardrobe dilemmas before they even arise, they become part of their daily lives. Local knowledge and an understanding of lifestyle has never been more important.”
The move is a culmination of a series of services the company has been rolling out in order to enhance its relationships with its top-tier clientele.
Earlier this year YNAP unveiled a private, invitation-only section on the site where a select group of clients can view an exclusive edit of high jewelry and watches. It has also created “Net-a-porter at Home,” where clients can book personal styling appointments at their homes, and “Style Trial,” which allows EIPs to order up to 30 pieces on a consignment model, with payment only taken for the items they wish to keep after a seven-day trial period.
“When we launched in 2000, we had stylists available on the phone for customers looking for help and advice and it’s grown from there. The reason for the expansion in the team is the increased demand for the services, and in anticipation of further interest,” said Loehnis, pointing to the importance of continuing the retailer’s initial mission of marrying digital innovation with “the all-important human touch”
As the personal shopping landscape becomes increasingly competitive — brands such as Burberry have been introducing dedicated chat functions on their apps in order to service top-tier customers, while Matchesfashion.com has opened a brick-and-mortar space dedicated to entertaining clients — this investment in hiring and training bigger and more sophisticated client relations teams also highlights YNAP’s intention to keep its top customers returning.
It’s a smart investment given how instrumental this client segment is to a luxury retailer: As reported, EIPs make up 3 percent of the company’s customer base and generate 40 percent of total sales.
These EIPs are also time-stretched, do 70 percent of their shopping online and have a mobile-first approach, with WhatsApp being their platform of choice when it comes to communicating with their personal shopper.
Some of the perks of being part of Net’s EIP scheme include early access to new collections and exclusive capsules; invitations to fashion shows or other industry events; Net-a-porter’s own brand events, and trunk shows.
Only a select few customers become EIPs based on their spend and level of engagement on site. Although YNAP will not reveal specific figures, industry sources say the first tier of EIPs spend a minimum of $7,000 to $10,000 a year, while EIP Premium access is granted to clients who spend $25,000 or more annually.
“The ultimate luxury is time and convenience, so service is king. We pioneered the concept of personal shoppers in the luxury digital space, and we continue to innovate by listening closely to our customer and using our data intelligence and customer insight,” added Loehnis.