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12/01/2018

Digital Strategy 2018 - Boucheron : the paradox of the digitalization of luxury houses

For the past five years, Boucheron has put customer experience improvement at the heart of its strategy. The arrival of the new President Hélène Poulit-Duquesne in 2015 marked a new stage, marked by a significant investment in digital and in the different types of exhibition media “POEM”: Paid, Owned and Earned Media. The goal is to work simultaneously with all customer touchpoints, both online and offline, to provide a consistent and continuous customer experience. Maison Boucheron is unique in that its distribution network remains almost exclusively physical, which makes it necessary to digitize points of sale. To this end, the new President has recently launched the renovation of the network of shops and the emblematic building of the Place Vendôme, while developing better integration of "phygital" – a contraction of the words: physical and digital - functionalities. How does Boucheron integrate these functionalities in a sales ceremony without creating a "digital barrier" between a sales consultant and a customer and thus harm the human relationship, which remains key in the world of luxury?

This analysis was carried out following the interview of Sia Partners with:

Nicolas Sala, Head of Transversal Projects

"The brand must incorporate all customer wait parameters. There is no debate about the fact that one must explore to stay connected with our customers. Our goal is to offer the best experience." 

•••

For Boucheron, key stages of the sales ritual must remain exclusively human. For example, the discovery phase which remains an important emotional interaction with the customer. During discovery, customer knowledge can only be addressed with a human advisor, which ensures a human connection. The challenge is to imagine "phygital" functionalities that are not mere accessories but that truly enrich the customer experience by complementing the human experience. As such, visual merchandising is an option to consider for Boucheron. In point of sale, it's about finding the right combination and mix of human relationship and phygital to build a memorable and hopefully magical customer experience. A successful experience can lead to customers becoming “Brand Ambassadors” of the House. Finally, and this is the last step of the customer experience, the post-purchase phase is also a key issue for the House. Online plays a strategic role, since a happy customer is able to share his/her experiences on social platforms.

An issue of culture and internal organization. If the balance between the physical and the digital appears particularly sensitive for a luxury house like Boucheron, from a customer point of view it also raises internal organizational issues. The development of projects combining physical and digital was the trigger for the gradual spread of the term "phygital" in company-wide vocabulary. Teams have created groups of projects integrating different functional and technical skills, offering a complementarity between the two environments. The integration of a digital culture internally is also supported by the development of external agency partnerships with a strong digital dimension, which support Boucheron on its projects. Finally, as Nicolas Sala points out, recruiting digital sensitive profiles also contributes to a gradual change in the company's culture. Boucheron thus retains its historical and high-end identity and strives to place the cursor in a relevant way between the human relationship and the integration of digital devices to enrich the customer experience.

Use case: A use of digital technologies in the world of luxury

Two and a half years ago, Boucheron took part in the Biennale des Antiquaires[1] in Paris. In this event, the House incorporates iBeacon devices in the background of its pieces of jewelry and offers participants an app dedicated to the history of the brand and its products. Equipped with an iPad, visitors can move from room to room and obtain specific audiovisual content customized to each product. This operation allowed the House to gather customer data and demonstrate some limitations of the application of digital technologies in the world of luxury. Focused on their screen, some visitors weren't focused on the products and the environment that surrounded them.

 

 

[1] The Biennale des Antiquaires has been a must-attend event for more than half a century and quintessentially representative of the French « art de vivre ».

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Milestones 

  • 1858 : Maison Boucheron is founded
  • 1893 : opening of the Place Vendôme store
  • 2017 : launch of the Place Vendôme boutique renovation

 

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