This article is part of CMO.com’s November series about commerce and consumerism. Click here for more.
Driving footfall into a physical location is a constant item on the agenda in retail, so when you’re fortunate enough to be a sought-after destination, the last thing you want to do is let your visitors down. That was the challenge facing Milan’s luxury shopping street Via Montenapoleone.
As part of the city’s Quadrilatero della Moda fashion quarter, the street is home to around 130 designer brands and businesses. It also plays a huge role in cementing Milan’s reputation for luxury and fashion among well-heeled global shoppers. Tourists who come to Milan do so with the intent to shop, spending more, on average (€1,398), than visitors to other fashion capitals, such as Paris, London, and New York.
Despite its status, however, Via Montenapoleone was failing to meet the in-destination expectations of its visitors, according to research carried out by Accenture Interactive, together with the local street association.
“In terms of Via Montenapoleone, visitors expected parties and special events, but, when they arrive, they find it’s just a non-pedestrianised street with cars. People wonder why it’s so famous,” said Milan-based Umberto Andreozzi, head of fashion & luxury at Accenture Interactive.
Behind the scenes, however, brands on the street offer any number of private events, experiences, and VIP services for consumers to tap into—if they know how.
The ‘Phygital’ VIP Offer
Accenture Interactive and local district organisation Associazione MonteNapoleone worked together on a digital and physical—so-called “phygital”—solution that would improve visitor access to high-end experiences before and during trips. They also wanted to ensure brands could maintain their luxury levels of service throughout.
The first step was to focus on the street’s identity and turn it into a brand asset that individual brands could get behind; many brands had already tried to digitalise their offers with limited success. The One Luxury Destination platform was created to connect the street with visitors to Milan before, during, and after trips.
Through the dedicated website and app, the project consolidated information from local brands in one place, from store location details to some of the more accessible brand experiences available. “It was very much about creating a brand asset out of the district. The identity itself is ‘Via Montenapoleone,’ and brands reacted well, as it’s not about them individually but collaboratively through the association,” Andreozzi said.
An important element of One Luxury Destination is a digital concierge service that allows shoppers to register their interest in VIP experiences. By doing so, they receive information on exclusive events and can start to tailor-make trips to Milan. Although this was initially planned as a self-service function, Andreozzi said early indicators had revealed customers’ preference for the luxury of service around booking, rather than wanting to do it themselves.
Once visitors arrive in Milan, the physical side of the One Luxury Destination project is a two-floor VIP lounge at Via Montenapoleone 23. Visitors pay a fee to access the space where they can relax during shopping trips or have luxury services come to them. Private fitting rooms and personal shopping from brands in the street can be arranged and hosted on-site.
Via Montenapoleone 23
A full-time concierge is also available in the lounge to assist with theatre, event, and restaurant reservations, tax-free shopping, and exclusive brand events.
So far, Andreozzi said, the VIP offer had generated a high level of engagement, with three-quarters of visitors registered responding to new brand initiatives. Two years in, the next steps for the association and Accenture Interactive are to expand the marketing of the platform throughout the customer journey and in key territories, and explore new technologies such as beacons for greater brand interaction with visitors when in the district itself.
From Shop To Shoppable
The initial project has provided the momentum for one Via Montenapoleone luxury business to further explore what digital has to offer.
High-end menswear brand Larusmiani was founded in 1922 and is among Milan’s oldest clothing and textile companies. The brand’s only store is its boutique on Via Montenapoleone, which it opened in 1954.
Its challenge was how to move into e-commerce as a brand without the extensive retail footprint and global recognition of other luxury brands. “We tried to understand how to transfer the brand identity into digital,” Andreozzi said.
The result is a foray into video commerce with a shoppable brand film that blurs the boundary between “home” and the store. Four out of five viewers of the aspirational film stop to click on product.