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What the Most Digitally Savvy Luxury Brands Do Better Than the Rest

Take a leaf out of Burberry's book and update your mobile site, okay?
Burberry trenches backstage at a runway show. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Burberry trenches backstage at a runway show. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Since the late 'aughts, Burberry's strength in technology has been hashed and rehashed enough that it's become something of an accepted fact, even if you don't know exactly why the brand's so good in that area. While the brand's digitally enhanced stores are a very public-facing (and fairly blunt) gesture toward investing in technology, its success lies in the details — the minutia being something that the luxury research firm L2 Inc. takes very seriously when compiling its annual "Digital IQ Index" for the fashion industry, a ranking of luxury brands according to their prowess across e-commerce, digital marketing, mobile and social media. 

Burberry took first place in this year's report, released Monday, followed by Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch. (Céline, for all its street cred among the Cool Ladies of Fashion, came in nearly dead last, only beating out Jean Paul Gaultier in L2's rating.) So what are these brands doing better than everyone else?

They jump on new social platforms

Is Snapchat's youthful user base buying Chanel handbags and vinyl Dior boots? Not necessarily, unless we're talking about Kylie Jenner. But that doesn't make up-and-coming apps a bad use of resources for luxury brands — if anything, they've got the attention of future customers, who will snap up mascaras and fragrances until they've got the income for bigger purchases. L2 notes that Burberry is diligent about getting on new platforms like Apple Music, Snapchat and Periscope, the last two of which it used to live stream its show in Los Angeles this spring.

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They make buying on smartphones easy

Despite the fact that most luxury brands' sites are mobile-optimized, they haven't done much to make purchasing on smartphones and tablets quick and painless. (How many times have you been like, "Nah, not worth it," during an unexpectedly lengthy checkout process on your phone?) Brands like Burberry invest in streamlining the buying experience on mobile; by supporting Apple Pay, Cole Haan reduced its own checkout from 15-plus clicks to one thumbprint scan, L2 says. And it pays off: Burberry saw its mobile penetration triple after it updated that channel.

They personalize the online shopping experience

Of the luxury brands L2 analyzed, about 83 percent let customers create an account on their e-commerce sites, but 69 percent went no further than asking for the shopper's gender or birthday. That can be a real missed opportunity, the research group says: Asking questions like whether a shopper is interested in men's or women's clothing and where his or her preferred store is located can be helpful for serving up personalized product recommendations. Saving information like shoe size, as Stuart Weitzman does, can also make the experience a little more cushy — and fast.