Fast fashion brands have pulled far ahead of their luxury competitors thanks to their willingness to invest in the least sexy aspects of e-commerce. Luxury lags behind fast fashion in several key areas, particularly in Europe, according to Gartner L2’s Fast Fashion vs. Luxury report.

Nearly all UK fast fashion brands allow customers to pick up and return items purchased online in stores and just over half show in-store inventories online. Luxury fashion brands in the UK, however, miss an opportunity to build site and store traffic by failing to invest in omnichannel integration.

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Loyalty programs are also lacking among luxury brands in Europe, while fast fashion brands, inspired by Amazon Prime, are pioneering subscription loyalty programs to increase purchase frequency. Luxury brands instead focus on creating high touch interactions with consumers and while this approach may develop direct relationships with big in-store spenders, it neglects customers who prefer shopping online.

Luxury brands further fail to connect with online shoppers through their lack of search visibility, with fast fashion brands consistently achieving higher paid and organic search visibility against unbranded terms. Fast fashion’s organic search success is driven by disciplined product naming and product page descriptions that maximize Google’s ability to identify relevant pages. For example, a bodycon dress from PrettyLittleThing uses the trendy search term “bodycon” once in the product title and three times in the description. Department stores, a main luxury distribution outlet that fares much better in search results, offer luxury brands an opportunity to pursue second-order search strategies.

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Concerned about spamming customers, luxury brands in Europe have also fallen behind in email activity. Fast fashion and mid-market brands, on the other hand, leverage email promotions to drive conversions. In the UK, 21% of mid-market fashion brands send promotions via email—double the rate of luxury brands. In France, mid-market brand Calvin Klein offers a best-in-class strategy for capturing email addresses by offering discounts and then following up to ensure the discount converts to a purchase. Calvin Klein’s welcome email includes a 10% online or in-store discount code and encourages users to fill out a detailed profile. Follow-up emails that feature the discount are sent four and five days after signup, reminding users that the offer will soon expire.

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