LONDON — High-spending clients can account for up to 40 percent of a luxury fashion business’ total sales, so retailers are going the extra mile to keep them entertained — and coming back for more.
Net-a-porter and Mr Porter, which call its top-spending customers EIPs, extremely important people, have always had an attitude of “the sky is the limit” when it comes to servicing this clientele, providing anything from front row show tickets to couture pieces, first dibs on hot-ticket items or fine jewelry pre-ordered through WhatsApp conversations.
Convenience is another key ingredient in the luxury experience that Net and Mr Porter want to provide, which is why they are enhancing their EIP services with a new series of off-line experiences in the form of at-home shopping consultations.
As part of the service known as Style Trial, customers will be offered a seven-day trial period to order pieces online and try at home. They can order up to 30 pieces, which they or their personal shoppers have chosen, across all of Net’s categories. Payment will be automatically taken for the items they wish to keep at the end of the trial, while the rest will be returned.
The aim is to offer these customers more “room to experiment, without commitment.”
“Our EIPs are all very busy men and women with tight schedules and little time, so convenience takes precedence. They enjoy trying pieces within the comfort of their own homes, rather than having to go to a showroom or boutique,” said Lupe Puerta, global director of VIP client relations at Net-a-porter and Mr Porter, adding that the service is an extension of existing ones at both retailers.
“Net-a-porter at Home” is a service that asks customers to make an appointment with a personal stylist who then presents them with an edit of clothing and accessories to try at home. There is also an additional “You Try We Wait” service where customers receive a same-day delivery of their order, while a personal shopper waits for them to try everything, and return what they don’t want, on the spot.
Style Trial will extend the length of this trial period, and Puerta said it can work particularly well for high-priced categories such as eveningwear or fine jewelry and watches, or offer more chances for the retailer to source one-of-a-kind, bespoke items for clients, beyond its seasonal stock.
“We believe categories, such as our fine jewelry and watches suite, will be incredibly popular for the new Style Trial service. The most expensive piece ever sold on Net-a-porter was a special order bespoke ring in December last year for $188,000, showing us that our EIP customers really do value the chance to buy truly one-of-a-kind pieces that are not part of a current collection,” Puerta said.
She said she’s expecting the eveningwear offer to be popular with the new service. “Previously, we’ve ordered couture pieces for a client who didn’t want to attend fittings, so we took her measurements and liaised directly with the fashion house.”
The service is by invitation-only and reserved for EIP customers. The company declined to specify how much a customer would need to spend to qualify as an EIP but, according to industry sources, the first tier of EIPs spend a minimum of $7,000 — $10,000 per year, while EIP Premium access is granted to clients who spend $25,000 or more.
Off-line experiences are key when it comes to establishing successful personal shopper-client relationships, even for a purely digital player like Net. Other online competitors have been opening dedicated brick-and-mortar spaces to host private shopping appointments and treat clients to a host of off-line experiences, from collection previews, to designer talks and one-on-one appointments.
For Moda Operandi, its Moda Mews in London’s Belgravia and Moda Madison showroom on Madison Avenue have been a key part of the strategy from the get-go. The showrooms hold no stock and showcase products curated for individual customers during appointments, while the space is also used to host events.
Matchesfashion.com has also been bolstering its personal shopping services with the opening of 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair, which houses a series of luxuriously designed personal shopping suites, and the integration of technology with personal shopping, which allows stylists to make recommendations based on browsing history and previous order history.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of experience and of a highly personalized service. It is our job to bring the experience to the customer, in person,” added Puerta. “These customers aren’t arriving in a store and then leaving. We have an ongoing conversation with them, we’re part of their daily lives. The customer is not a number, a stat. They are people, with their own style, their own requirements, their own agenda, and we aim to make them feel like the only customer.”