If most consumers were asked to pinpoint one major downfall of internet shopping, it would be hard to look past the lack of personal connection that often characterises the online experience. Luxury consumers are often after a very personalised and immersive experience when searching for their latest purchase, and this is something which has traditionally been reserved for the realms of physical shopping.
This is where online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter steps in; bringing the more personal, VIP experience of a private salon to the digital world is a key goal of the company, and one that it is most recently attempting to address through its new EIP Privé platform for jewellery lovers and big spenders.
Net-a-Porter was launched in 2000 and ever since has created and pioneered a new wave of personal shopping and client relations services, billing itself as the first multi-brand, online retailer to build a client relations team. The company is committed to elevating the customer journey, and claims to bring the brand to life in the digital world through a “first class offering unrivalled by competitors”.
EIP Privé, its latest innovation, is an invitation-only digital destination, which was launched in July this year as a place for the company’s most loyal customers to discover a host of high jewellery exclusives.
The platform was designed with the intention of bringing the customer service of the physical private jewellery salon to the digital realm and offers an interactive experience for traditionally offline and highly-renowned jewellery maisons.
The service takes the form of an “exquisitely curated” area of high jewellery, created to take customers on a journey, exploring a range of desirable pieces that have been designed to be “genuinely and eternally cherished”. Many of the pieces on the platform will be shown only to a very select band of customers, can take hundreds of hours of craftsmanship to produce, and may be one-of-a-kind creations which will never be repeated.
The launch follows the success of Net-a-Porter’s already existing Fine Jewellery & Watch suite, and the company’s president, Alison Leohnis, seems confident that EIP Privé will prove itself to be a similar hit.
Speaking at the time of the launch, she said: “Building on the success of our Fine Jewellery & Watch suite, we are delighted to introduce a special collection of exquisite, high jewellery pieces at Net-a-Porter. EIP Privé will offer clients a truly unique opportunity to discover the world’s most exclusive high jewellery maisons through a highly personalised, invitation-only service.”
The invitation-only aspect of the service is key. Essential to the idea is the concept of an EIP, or an ‘Extremely Important Person’, which is the designation Net-a-Porter gives to its most loyal top-level customers.
Although EIPs constitute only 3% of the company’s total customer base, the group makes up 40% of its total sales, so it makes sense that these are the people receiving an invitation to the company’s latest high jewellery service.
According to the online giant, someone who fits this profile will, amongst other things, do over 70% of their total luxury fashion shopping online, visit the Net-a-Porter site every week – especially on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when new product is uploaded – have an interest in fashion, finance, art and science, and look after themselves through diet and exercise. Moreover, they will generally be mobile first, with WhatsApp as their favoured form of communication, will be incredibly engaged and knowledgeable about the fashion that works for them and their lifestyle, and will be consistently curious and always looking for their next purchase.
The five cities with the highest proportion of EIPs globally are given by the company as New York, London, Hong Kong, Sydney and Abu Dhabi.
“It depends more on lifestyle than geography,” explains Lupe Puerta, the company’s global director of VIP client relations when asked how the EIP woman shops. “Some are all about runway and trends, what’s new and what’s ‘now’. Some are more functional, with super busy working and social lives and need us to be there to make their lives easier, and to make shopping more convenient.”
EIPs already receive a raft of benefits at Net-a-Porter, including complementary premium delivery, access to new products before the general public, invitations to seasonal private sales, and invitations to exclusive industry events including Net-a-Porter’s own brand events.
New benefits offered to them through EIP Privé include private viewings of the newest standout rare jewels and exclusive collections as well as access to a range of personalised services including customisation, bespoke requests and sourcing of one-of-a-kind pieces. Net-a-Porter also offer EIP customers secure pick up and hand delivery, ‘try before you buy’ services, and delivery to more than 170 countries.
Perhaps most appealingly, every EIP who is invited to join the platform will be helped by a dedicated team of personal shoppers, who will be able to arrange private appointments regardless of where the customer lives. Net-a-Porter’s personal shoppers are based around the world and all receive comprehensive diamond and gemstone education from the Gemological Institute of America.
The online retailer’s team of personal shoppers and client relations experts are integral to the business and are arguably what set Net-a-Porter apart from other luxury e-commerce platforms.
“I had moved to Hong Kong for five months to set up the personal shopping team out there and during my stay it really hit home how important this function was,” Puerta explains. “Not just having personal shoppers but having a team who can connect them globally in a strategic, proactive way.”
Net-a-Porter personal shoppers have one goal — to put the customer first. While they are located across three continents, they will travel accordingly to meet customer needs.
The retailer states: “Top level customers look for that extra personal touch and rely on the team not just for shopping but for lifestyle advice on where to stay when visiting a city, great restaurants, hotels, exhibitions and beyond. Personal shoppers continually have their customer’s front of mind. Whether they are backstage at shows, at brand appointments or collection previews, Net-a-Porter personal shoppers keep their individual customers up to date with special, covetable pieces and new brands that they know she will love.”
Over the last few years, jewellery has become increasingly important to Net-a-Porter, with the business often securing deals with brands that have never sold their pieces online before.
EIP Privé launched with products from six traditionally offline high jewellery brands, Piaget, Bayco, Giampero Bodino, Nadia Morgenthaler, Boghossian and Bohmer et Bassenge and others will be sure to join as the service finds its feet.
And if the platform is as successful as the firm anticipates, it will not be long before Net-a-Porter make further forays into the world of invitation-only luxury e-commerce, with expansions into watches and men’s jewellery planned for later in the year.
All this points towards a rich and advantageous offer for the company’s loyal customers, and so it seems likely that EIP Privé will prove a hit with those lucky enough to receive an invitation.