When you walk through the well-appointed door of a high-end luxury shop, you’re prepared to pay a premium for what is known as "an experience:" good service, free champagne, and all the little odds and ends that are attendant to buying, say, a keychain that costs more than what I make in a month. Translating those perks to a smartphone is tough—people go online for sales, not experiences.
Or so goes traditional thinking on mobile e-commerce. To Barbara Rybka, who spent a decade in Silicon Valley before becoming Gucci’s digital director, it seemed like kind of a cop out. "If you look at the average luxury shopper, they consume most information through their mobile devices—even more so than the average smartphone user," she tells me. Meanwhile, half of Gucci.com’s traffic was coming from people on smartphones, clicking through from email blasts. "It was a tremendous opportunity," she says.
Since launching a new mobile site over the holidays, Gucci’s shoppers haven proven her right. The three-month-old site, which was designed by Brooklyn digital agency Huge, has brought in customers far beyond the optimistic targets: Their mobile conversion rates have increased by 70%, and mobile revenue has quadrupled. These numbers are mainly thanks to Huge’s deft simplification of the entire e-commerce experience, from browsing to checking out.
The site was designed to look like an app—something that has confused at least one reviewer. The front page (which is new, but pulls data from the original site’s back end) is for browsing through a number of simple images, while a top bar pulls down product categories and your shopping cart. "There are no extraneous words, and no extraneous buttons," Rybka says. Unlike the few luxury brands who’ve developed mobile platforms, the site utilizes swipe to fairly elegant ends ("The touch is as elegant as the visuals," she adds). Checking out takes just a few seconds, and—of course—your card info is stored for future binges.
It’s intuitively designed and just chichi enough to feel like those shoes are worth the $1,400. For the team at Gucci, it’s a step toward understanding how their brand, which prides itself on slowness and tradition, fits into the mobile space. According to one trade publication, the number of luxury shoppers using their phones to shop is nearly twice the number of regular consumers, and they’re using the mobile sites to augment what they buy in stores. "Luxury consumers are using smartphones and tablets to do research for their offline shopping experience," one analyst told Luxury Daily. That’s been confirmed by Gucci’s in-store employees as well, at least anecdotally. "People are going into the store and showing employees the images pulled up on the site," Rybka adds.
Check out the new site on your phone here.