Caring for Clients
“Enhancing the client experience and the performance of our Houses.”
The explosive growth of online sales during the health crisis underlined the central role played by digital tech in Luxury, while also vindicating Kering’s business strategy. For the Group, digital platforms are an essential driver for enhancing the quality of the client experience – both in-store and online. Grégory Boutté, Chief Client and Digital Officer, discusses the events of the past year.
What is Kering’s vision for digital tech?
For Kering, it’s a means rather than an end in itself. The success of our Houses is rooted in their creativity, the authenticity of their narratives, and the excellence of their know-how. Luxury is about offering fabulous products, which then lead to an outstanding purchasing experience. Our aim now is to further improve these experiences. The strength of digital tech is that it can deliver experiences that would otherwise be impossible to create.
For example, we have developed Luce, an app for the in-store sales teams that provides stock availability in real time, along with style recommendations linked to the product or the client’s buying history. By increasing the knowledge available to sales personnel, the app frees them to focus on the client relationship, which then leads to a better experience for the client. What’s more, this technology also has a direct effect on sales. It’s a good example of digital technology’s potential in the Luxury sector, and how it can benefit clients, sales teams and Houses.
What role did digital play during the health crisis?
Basically, it enabled us to keep in touch. We all experienced it with our families and friends, but it was also the case for the Group’s brands and communities. Given that they could not be in physical contact with their audiences, our Houses increased their presence on social media platforms, and particularly on WeChat in Asia. These channels also benefited from rapid growth in types of usage, with the emergence of social commerce, for example. The pandemic also proved to be an accelerator, both for online and remote purchasing by clients, which grew enormously, and also in terms of implementing new solutions and processes for brands. For our part, we created virtual showrooms to present the Fall-Winter collections. Faced with the temporary closure of boutiques, different solutions were provided so that our Houses could conduct sales remotely and communicate in a more targeted, personalized way with their clients, particularly by increasing the use of data.
In 2019, you announced the internalization of e-commerce sites belonging to the Group’s brands. What benefits did that provide?
The challenge was twofold: to enhance the quality of the client experience and to improve the performance of our websites. Our boutiques offer some of the very best experiences in the world and our aim is to reach the same level online. Just as the Houses have complete control over interior design, range of products, and events and services they offer, we want them to have the same opportunities for the online experience. This has long been the case for Gucci, which already manages its own platform.
It’s also an essential condition for offering a truly omnichannel journey. For example, you can buy or reserve a product on the brand’s website and collect it from the boutique, or use the site to book an in-person visit. These services are much appreciated, particularly by the younger generations and in Asia, but also by others. For our clients, there should be no barrier between a brand’s website and its sales locations, and they want to move seamlessly between the two. By managing these platforms ourselves, we can meet those expectations. It’s been the case for Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent since 2020, and for Balenciaga since early 2021. Lastly, having direct control of online sales also improves product availability and delivery times. When a client places an order online, delivery can be handled by one of our logistics platforms (in Italy, the United States, etc.) or by the boutique nearest their home.
What other areas are you working on?
We are exploring several technologies to enhance our operational efficiency, including artificial intelligence. The aim is to fine-tune the alignment of production of collections with sales forecasts. We stay modest, we have already improved the accuracy of our forecasts, which has a positive impact both financially and environmentally.
We are also interested in blockchain, which has immense potential for traceability and the fight against counterfeiting, which would benefit both clients and Houses. Ulysse Nardin and MCQ are already using this technology in their processes.
Lastly, we are working on areas that are part of tomorrow’s Luxury. New materials are a major field of innovation: for example, we are looking closely at alternatives to animal leather. We also pay a lot of attention to new business models that could transform our sector. At the start of 2021, Kering announced it had taken a stake in Vestiaire Collective, the world’s leading platform for second‑hand fashion. It’s a fast-growing market and a major trend that is in tune with the expectations and buying habits of the new generation. The aim is to support this trend, and to understand it from the inside, with the twin objectives of providing the maximum possible benefits for our clients and leading Luxury toward more innovative and sustainable practices in the future.
Discover the other sections of our Activity report
What were the key challenges of 2020? How did our teams respond to the situation? What are our proudest achievements? What are our priorities? Our objectives? Read interviews with Jean-François Palus, Group Managing Director, Béatrice Lazat, Chief People Officer, Grégory Boutté, Chief Client & Digital Officer and Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer.