Luxury Ecommerce Newcomers: Building Brand Trust Is Key

I’ve spent the better part of my last year helping an emerging luxury company build up its brand, primarily through online means – but there’s one aspect in particular that’s been tough to develop. Selling a luxury product online is a difficult task, and doing so as a new face on the block is even harder. This is something we’ve both been experiencing, although now that the tides are turning, I thought I could share my insights and lessons learned with you all.

I’ve also asked a few luxury Ecommerce veterans to lend me their knowledge and was lucky enough to get some amazing responses back. We’ll start with what I’ve learned and the hurtles our team had to overcome to finally get things moving in the sales department, not just the traffic.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”
― George MacDonald

Every newcomer to the luxury industry will have to face this problem or pretty much die out without a hope. No one will buy high-end products from a company they’ve barely heard about, nor from a company that has very little brand information. A good, trusted brand name is the key to generating strong sales in this industry.

Build It & They Will Come

…but not necessarily buy. Selling something that costs in excess of $5,000 isn’t as easy as you might think; in fact, it takes time to get to that level. Regardless, developing that amount of trust in a brand is well worth the effort, and the results in social followers and search engines will follow.

To get the website to the point where sales started to come in required developing a few key areas in order to hit our target goals. While we may have missed a couple other ideas, we feel these areas really helped this company blossom into a well known brand:

1. Showcase the faces of the company

In this day and age, there is no excuse to not showcase extensive company bios – of course, unless you’re wanted for murder or something. Your customers will feel a lot more secure in their purchase by “getting to know” your team and seeing individual emails and phone numbers. This is something I will look for when I have my shopping hat on, especially when I’m doing a first-time purchase from a store online. We showcase our team proudly right here and it has led to a lot of the right people contacting the right member of the team.

2. Honest and amazing customer reviews are invaluable!

Customer reviews are extremely important for both organic rankings and showcasing to the world that you’re not a fly-by-night operation. A huge portion of first-time shoppers are without a doubt going to be checking for reviews before they buy, so make sure you make that easy for them.

3. Offer something no one else in your industry does

This is especially important if you’re in a market that has a lot of competition. With our luxury ecommerce client, this key feature was the “thing” that broke them out of the funk and into the spotlight. Offering something else no one in your industry does is also a great way to attract attention in the form of social media PR and those coveted natural links.

What The Experts Had To Say

I just couldn’t let this post be confined to my own thoughts and decided to reach out to industry colleagues from my personal rolodex, as well as a few from the luxury LinkedIn groups I’m involved with. Thanks to everyone who took the time to throw in their two cents, and I encourage anyone else to drop some knowledge down below in the comments to keep this discussion going.

“First impression is key; you can’t fake luxury. If you offer premium products and services, you have to uphold the same standard across your marketing efforts. Although you may be tempted to outsource your branding/web design/content marketing offshore to save money, I strongly recommend against it. Affluent consumers will immediately notice the low-end look of your website, and will instantly move along to find something that just feels right. Since affluent consumers spend the majority of their time browsing the best websites in the world, they can spot a fake luxury brand in a second. If you want to be luxury, everything about you has to be branded as luxury. Remember this: you have less than 5 seconds to get your message across – you are either luxury or you are not. ”

RoxanneGenierTwitter― Roxanne Genier (@RoxanneGenier), Luxury Travel Expert & Founder of Agence:Luxury



“You must present a product or service of value that appeals to the market. It has to be consistent, relevant, accessible, and stylish. The buzz and price point usually set the level of luxury by which public opinion will judge it. All of the above with some luck and timing can truly make or break the perception and ultimately the value.”

Ryan Adams Twitter― Ryan Adams (@MonarchBResort), Director of Rooms at Monarch Beach Resort



“For me, luxury consists of four parts:  exceptional service, premium amenities, substantial amounts of personal space, and an exclusive product that elicits desire and envy. To meet these demands, a product MUST establish trust and belief in BOTH the product and company by under-promising and over-delivering. HOW a company responds to an error or oversight (real or perceived) is the best measure of customer service, which is the most important puzzle piece in developing a brand following, as well as retaining brand loyalty. In the modern era, loyalty means you get a shot at someone’s business, but by no means is it assurance of a sale”

Tom Lapointe Twitter― Tom LaPointe (@TomLapointe), Brand Ambassador at CarChat24



“Be Creative and be an Original: “Tell the truth and never deceive” for the sake of making a sale.”

Vincent Jacquard Twitter― Vincent Jacquard (@papebenoist2), Founder of Vincent Jacquard Design



I would advise getting to know the various luxury brands and what differentiates them. Go shopping there, even if you don’t buy anything. Visit their websites and view their videos and “About Us” pages. Read books on luxury, customer service and decision-making. Join the various luxury-focused groups on LinkedIn.

― Victoria Macdonald, Former Director of Education at Sotheby’s International Realty



“You can’t really half-ass anything. I find so many brands trying to establish themselves as players with weak and under-polished videos, websites, images and all sorts of other branding. In luxury you need to go all in.”

Geoff Murie Twitter― Geoff Murie (@geoffmurie), Co-Founder of Luxury Branded



“Know the brand, follow it, and go into the boutiques, A LOT. Read as much as you can on the brand and by all means, DO NOT listen to anyone who is always looking at the price.”

― Jocelyn Piinsler, Sales Associate at Burberry



“No one should ever try to break into an industry. Better to identify would-be clients, vendors & peers you’re willing to give your place in a lifeboat. Or do jail time with, because in addition to the fun & glamor of any venture, there’s always periods of terror & boredom.”

Eric Sheckler Twitter― Eric Sheckler (@Eric_Sheckler), Founder of Parts & Labor



“They have to truly understand the consumer and the market where they are trying to establish that brand. Each market and each consumer have a specific “language”. Luxury brands can not work the exact same way in the USA and Europe, for example. Not to forget emerging economies (huge deal for luxury brands), where the market and consumer must be studied with even more specifics. To sum up, it is time for the brands to understand that a happy, pleased and satisfied consumer who’s been fully understood, is the main target of any organization, especially when they are spending millions on every purchase.”

― Bruno Cerqueira, Consumer Services Professional



“I look at “branding” as a way a company or designer wishes to be perceived by the public. Branding utilizing a designer’s name, without the actual designer, should still portray the brand in a way that is consistent with the original intentions, beliefs, style, and quality that the original designer would have wished.”

― Christian Nielsen, Luxury Goods and Apparel Consultant



“You have a great product and the ‘aware’ discerning potential buyer amongst the wealthy understands it. However, you need to reach out to the entire demographic group. Perception is reality! You need to be endorsed, discussed, analyzed and approved. You need to, step by step, work on building the aspirational value of the product. And, say a small prayer…”

― Sam Verghese, Sales & Marketing Head at Tiara Home Studio



“Build great products, and the brand will build itself with the right marketing. Buyers are too aware of being sold to these days to be bought off with clever branding alone at the luxury end. The message embodied by the brand must resonate through its products and be delivered by example, not solely by clever marketing.”

Julian Alexander Twitter― Julian Alexander (@emergencecouk), Founder of Emergence Personal & Professional Development

Ryan Clark
[email protected]

Ryan Clark is celebrating 10 years consulting for luxury brands across the globe helping them reach UHNW individuals online and off. He specializes in luxury digital marketing, SEO, PR and luxury viral marketing. Connect with me to talk about your luxury marketing strategy and how our services can help you achieve more this year. I offer a luxury gaps audit to determine where you're falling flat and where I see you can improve in your marketing efforts.   To connect with him online you can follow on Twitter @LuxuryBranded, connect on LinkedIn Ryan R Clark and read his column on Luxe Getaways Magazine where he covers the world of luxury.