Organisational and Marketing Challenges in Designing and Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy for Luxury Fashion Brands

Organisational and Marketing Challenges in Designing and Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy for Luxury Fashion Brands

Fabrizio Maria Pini (Mip Politecnico di Milano, Italy) and Barbara Quaquarelli (University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2697-1.ch004
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The adoption of omnichannel strategies by luxury fashion brands has a relevant impact on the whole value chain and generates many critical organizational implications for luxury companies. The reluctance of several fashion brands in adopting omnichannel initiatives might be related the uniqueness of luxury fashion value proposition, strongly related to rich storytelling and memorable experiences and on the need of large organisation redesign that involve collection design, physical retail role and functions, service design and inventory and supply chain management. There is no common approach to such topics within luxury fashion companies a present but it is possible to draw a sort of “ominchannel adoption curve or life cycle”, with the different evolutionary stages in which companies might be at present. These different stages are characterised by different goals for omnichannel, different level of integration between digital and traditional retail, information generation and sharing and function goals and competencies.
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Luxury fashion brands could be described as late adopters of digitalisation processes, and digital marketing in particular. The reasons for this scepticism towards digital media and channels are related to the misperception of e-commerce sites, search engines, and social media as being apt to support and promote only mass consumption and low-priced products. Luxury consumers were supposed to look for a more personal touch, a richer multi-sensory and stimulating experience that could be provided only through in-store interactions with products, brands, services and personnel (Heine & Berghaus, 2014, Kapferer & Bastien, 2009, Dell’Olmo, Riley & Lacroix, 2003). For a long time, luxury fashion brands adopted an elitist stance towards their relationships with customers, assuming that their role was one of leading an enthusiastic elite towards style and elegance. In this sense, stores and boutiques were perceived as the temples where brands could perform their rituals to initiate newcomers and tighten their bonds with loyal customers.

Only in the last few years have luxury fashion brands modified their stance towards digital channels and media delivering rich customer experiences and supporting complex brand narratives (Dauriz, Remy & Sandri, 2014; Hennig, Hofacker & Bloching, 2013). This new attention was originated by the understanding of the complex and articulated customer behaviours that had developed through the constant interaction with contents generated by brands, influencers and peers through search activities as well as social media and community engagement (Schau, Muñiz Jr., & Arnould, 2009; Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001; Kozinets, 1999). These interactions develop and affect customers’ perceptions and motivations toward brands and products and drive possible purchases, both on and off line (Hyseni, Brown & Gannon, 2015; Booth, & Matic, 2011).

Luxury fashion consumers interact with their favoured brands through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets even during their physical shopping expeditions in boutiques and department stores, accessing a radically new way of bonding physical and digital environments during the purchase process. In this sense, the key aspect of this new way of interacting with luxury fashion brands is related to the ability of the brand itself to merge on and off line touchpoints in order to deliver a seamless experience, redesigning the way in which brands can create value for their customers (Venkatasen, 2005). The interaction taking place between the brand and its customers in different touchpoints has evolved from a one-way communication approach into a co-creation paradigm in which customers participate—in various forms and with different levels of engagement—to the brand value proposition and to the product value that is being offered to them.

The present chapter aims at presenting the organisational and marketing implications of adopting an omnichannel perspective for luxury fashion brands. Abandoning the “store centric” approach that has always characterised high-end and luxury fashion brands might have an impact on many aspects of the organisation:

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