Net-A-Porter does not look like a typical online fashion store.

With its editorial layout and lifestyle-focused content, it’s far more akin to a fashion publication – a rival to the likes of Vogue or Elle magazine.

Content marketing has been at the core of Net-A-Porter’s strategy from the get-go, and it’s one of the reasons it has become such a big name in the world of luxury retail.

Here are four things brands of all kind can learn from it. 

Merging content and commerce

Many consumers enjoy both the physical and personal aspect of shopping for luxury goods, including everything from in-store customer service to high-end packaging.

Net-A-Porter proves that online luxury retailers can mimic this by delivering value in other areas, making the transaction process a small and sometimes even arbitrary part of the customer experience.

Combining content and commerce, its weekly online magazine, The Edit, offers unique and fresh insight from the industry alongside promoted products.

This ensures that customers are likely to return, regardless of how often they might make a purchase.

Likewise, by recognising the fact that customers buy into a lifestyle as well as a specific product, it uses high-quality and in-depth editorial to naturally drive sales. 

A customer-centric approach

Net-A-Porter is a great example of a brand that cares about its customer. 

Surveying 10,000 of its most valued shoppers to find out how they consumed fashion and lifestyle content, it found that 80% viewed print fashion magazines as their preferred medium.

So, though it might sound like a backwards step for a digital-only brand to delve into print, on the back of its research that’s exactly what Net-A-Porter did.

It created and launched Porter in 2014 – the brand’s very own print magazine.

While it retails at £5, EIP’s, or ‘extremely important people’, receive the magazine for free.

As well as rewarding the most loyal, Porter manages to draw consumers back to print with its unique selling point – the fact that it is shoppable.

Using its scannable app, customers can directly buy products as they read. 

This is a great example of how to merge a physical experience like reading a print magazine with the digital world.

Innovation and experimentation

Alongside making its online and print magazines shoppable, last year Net-A-Porter decided to release its very own shoppable social media network called The Net Set.

Building on the idea of Net-A-Porter customers (and the fashion industry in general) as a community, it allows users to ‘share and shop’ with like-minded people.

Using image recognition, it also offers tips and suggestions to help users complement or add to existing outfits.

In utilising new technology, Net-A-Porter shows that brands should always strive to innovate rather than resting on their laurels.

A seamless (and non-intrusive) customer experience

Finally, Net-A-Porter’s content marketing strategy means that customers can access fashion and luxury lifestyle content wherever and whenever they like.

By utilising desktop, mobile and print, shopping with Net-A-Porter is a truly multichannel experience. 

What’s more, it reinforces the notion that direct advertising is far from the most effective approach.

Instead, by delivering valuable and meaningful content (that can be consumed in the customer's own time), long-term loyalty is far more likely to occur.

When it comes to luxury retail, this strategy is key. 

Nikki Gilliland

Published 8 September, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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