How Farfetch uses technology to bring high-end fashion online

Farfetch’s highly successful IPO is a testament to a business that has adopted technology early to beat the competition and become a market leader. Established to address a specific problem – that many high-end boutique retailers do not have the reach or the resources to effectively manage an online store – Farfetch revolutionised the marketplace by creating an online hub in which customers could discover and buy high-end luxury fashion items from a range of brands and designers.

As stated in the company mission: ‘Farfetch exists for the love of fashion. We believe in empowering individuality. Our mission is to be the global technology platform for luxury fashion, connecting creators, curators and consumers.’

The key word here is technology. Unlike the majority of its competitors, Farfetch deems itself a technology company first. When you consider the logistics of serving over 700 brands and boutiques all over the world, through a single checkout, and then shipping those products, this makes complete sense. Being a technology company, customers also understand they will always receive a more streamlined and effective way of shopping.

So how has it become the global technology platform for luxury fashion? How has it set itself apart from the crowd?

Millennials: A growing demographic of online shoppers

According to Bain & Company data cited in the Farfetch investment prospectus, the global market for personal luxury goods was estimated to be worth $307 billion in 2017 and is predicted to rise to $446 billion by 2025.

But rewind 10 years and some people in the luxury industry questioned whether the internet was the right place to sell fashion items costing over $1,000 a pop.

Yet to the Farfetch audience, 66% female, aged 34, this was never a barrier. José Neves, Farfetch’s founder, stated that despite offline accounting for 91% of total fashion sales, online purchases are growing 25% year-on-year, in part due to millennials, who have a ‘digital-first’ mindset.

To take advantage of the expectations people have in this environment, Farfetch has been introducing a personalised experience, using customer behaviour and browsing patterns to recommend products that are well suited to them. Although It’s only this year that personalisation has been recognised by Gartner in the form of a Magic Quadrant, Farfetch has been using Qubit personalisation technology for over six years, serving 1,000s of tailored experiences during that time.

By turning to personalisation early, Farfetch has been able to steal a march on its competitors, providing the tailored experiences necessary to acquire and retain valuable customers.

Brand-conscious acquisition

One of the barriers to a luxury brand’s adoption of online is the potential loss of identity and experience. It only takes a second on the Farfetch homepage to see that these principles of ‘brand’ are held to the highest levels. Custom creatives and rich content are elegantly placed on the page, and it’s clear to see that a lot of attention has been paid to the tone of voice.

To ensure the successful acquisition of customers, luxury brands must not only maintain the brand image and high-end aesthetic customers demand but also create unique experiences from the first time they arrive on a website. By turning to personalisation, Farfetch achieves this, capturing customer data to gain an understanding of their wants and needs, so building tailored profiles for each customer that make online experiences truly unique.

Customer loyalty and retention

Farfetch has retention down to an art. For starters, their service is exemplary, promising speedy shipping, response times, round the clock support and free returns.

Luxury brands sell themselves on not just the quality of their goods but their service, especially for regular buyers. These are all factored into how Farfetch serves its loyal customers, ensuring that the instore one-to-one experience is copied and delivered in the online space as closely as possible.

Pushing the boundaries through technology

Farfetch has always been ahead of the technological curve, and it’s through creating a personalised experience for customers that they’ve truly been able to excel in doing what they do best – providing their customers with a portal to high-end luxury fashion items from a range of brands and designers. It’s highly successful IPO shows the importance of adopting relevant technology early and is a testament to its vision of evolving the way consumers access luxury brands and boutiques online.