Luxury retailers are placing bespoke content and blogs in prime online real estate in order to engage better with their customers. 

Speaking at the Luxury Interactive Europe event in London this week, Jenny Pashkova, global marketing manager at perfume retailer Penhaligons, said the retailer is focusing a lot of effort on its blog.

“Whether it’s a deep dive piece into the ingredients of a fragrance, an interview with the perfumer or insights into a particular launch – customers who read the blog spend more money and more time on the site,” said Pashkova. 

She said the positive reaction to the blog has led the Royal Warrant retailer to include blog segments in marketing emails, while the homepage now has a dedicated tile with details about the latest blog post, rather than just a link to the content. “It’s actively driving customers to the blog,” she added. 

Meanwhile, Net-a-Porter’s content efforts have been well documented – its magazines and online fashion content is widely regarded as being industry leading. But Cassandra Bergsland, head of website merchandising at Net-a-Porter, said the tricky part of creating content is balancing what goes where and how much real estate to allocate to each piece of editorial.

“We’re trying to evolve the content so it is as commercial as possible – our customers expect to shop our content,” she said. “As there are more and more bloggers, we need to make sure we’re replicating that experience for customers as well.”

Miriam Lahage, chief merchant at the plus-size luxury retailer, Navabi, said the retailer needs to be much more subtle in its approach to content. 

“As a premium plus-size brand, customers don’t want to hear about ‘plus-size’ – they want fashion,” she explained. “But if you’re visiting the site for the first time there needs to be visual prompts that it is plus-size. So we’re serving a different experience to someone we know is a new customer.”

Mobile

But all retailers are struggling to find the mobile sweet-spot. Lahage said Navabi is optimised for mobile and is about to launch a responsive website. “Once you’re on TV you have to do it,” she said referring to the the trend of the 'second screen' –  shopping on a tablet while watching television.

But while Navabi currently converts shoppers very well on tablet and mobile, Lahage said this makes it difficult to convince the business to make mCommerce a priority. “It’s a testament to our customers who are very loyal and are willing to go through whatever pain to checkout – but hopefully soon we’ll be in a different place.”

Meanwhile, Net-a-Porter’s homepage is not yet responsive and Bergsland said it is important to watch how customers interact with content differently. “While it can be responsive, it has to make sense for how our users navigate our different websites.”

Bergsland said once customers are inspired, they want to easily and quickly buy their products, so Net-a-Porter puts a lot of effort in ensuring there are no dead ends in the mobile experience, but when it comes to content, customers are more likely to spend longer on the site. “With desktop it is a little bit easier to create a bubble for them to sit in,” she said. 

145-year-old Penhaligons has a mobile website, with responsive upgrade in the pipeline after the retailer has seen a huge amount of traffic come from mobile. 

Pashkova said when the website has been redesigned in the past, it has been made to look a little more modern and cleaner, but it is important not to make it completely minimal.

“We need to retain some of the character of what people know,” she said. “When we redesigned our stores, we had to be careful not to go crazy and copy other brands who are doing well in the market. When we move forward we need to retain our heritage and character.”