At 241 years old, Asprey - the so-called ‘Queen’s gift shop’ - has built up a rich heritage in selling everything from jewellery to leather goods to homeware. Pre-pandemic, the retailer’s traditional customer base, which has included high profile members of the Royal Family since the time of Queen Victoria, were content with visiting stores to browse products and make purchases, and had a relatively low level of digital adoption.
However, since the pandemic, Asprey has seen a huge rise among those older, higher-net-worth individuals embracing digital channels. As a result, the retailer is prioritizing growing its omnichannel experience to better reflect this mindset shift within the older demographics, as well as better serve new customers. Aidan Connor, Asprey CTO, says:
Our current opportunity is that we have people who are more digitally aware, more digitally accepting, who are outside of our traditional customer base geographically. We now have the ability since the pandemic to serve them digitally through an e-commerce experience.
Use of the web as a research tool is also impacting Asprey’s approach to e-commerce. This is the case even if customers don't want to buy online, and prefer the in-store experience to actually make a purchase. Connor explains:
The idea of just going to the shops is dying. That bleeds into this omni-channel experience. How can we increase sales online, but then use that online presence to increase sales in store.
This presents itself as a challenge for a brand like Asprey, which sells craftsmanship and luxury, but where you can get the same product at a lower quality and lower price elsewhere. Connor says:
We do photo frames in silver, other people do them in plastic. If you want to find cheaper, you can find cheaper. To understand and convey that quality in stores is easy because somebody can pick something up, look at it from any angle, as close as they want. That is one of the greatest selling tools. You pick up one of our handbags, see the quality, feel how heavy it is because of the quality of the leather.
The challenge is, how do we bring that in-store selling experience – a very traditional one of experiencing the touch and feel and the smell of a product – online.
A new e-commerce reign
To help meet this challenge, Asprey has expanded its use of Adobe technology to relaunch its digital storefront and e-commerce site.
Asprey is using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) to create content that mirrors the in-store experience. So far, 1,500 products have been updated on the new site, featuring higher quality images along with more in-depth details of the heritage and craftmanship of each product. Since the website relaunch in March, Asprey has seen a 2.5x increase in its average order value.
The retailer is using Adobe Commerce to automate more of its e-commerce processes, and AEM Assets to reduce the need for separate content creation for each individual product. This has sped up the time it takes to develop and launch website content by 400%, 5x faster.
Asprey had been using other Adobe products like Creative Cloud for many years before this latest project. The business chose to expand its use of Adobe rather than invest in other technology as it offers a one-stop shop with products that Asprey knows all work together. Connor adds:
We can do 90% of what we want to do out the box with their product. Our time to market's fast, we got the new site done inside of four months, which is phenomenally quick for an AEM deployment, particularly one that's integrated with Adobe Commerce.
A key objective for the project was bringing content and commerce together. Before the relaunch, the site was very much geared towards people with an existing high brand and product knowledge. Connor explains:
People would use it as a convenience method. If you already have the blue 1781 bag and you need a green one for a couple of weeks’ time for an event, you already understand the quality and craftsmanship. You can now convenience shop online, and just buy the green one. Click and it's on its way. What we want to do is over time reduce that reliance from our e-commerce channel on existing customers, and get better at converting new customers.
This comes in the form of two strategies. The first is to use the website content to provide user journeys for people with a low brand and product knowledge:
We can convey that narrative and the passion we have for the products, the thing that justifies their position within the market, within that hyper-luxury price point.
The second element is those visitors who end up on the website after seeing that [REDACTED*] has worn Asprey’s Daisy earrings or one of its emerald pendants, and has straightaway come to the site to have a look. This results in a huge spike in traffic, which Asprey has got much better at handling since moving to Adobe Commerce, and subsequently to AEM.
The latest infrastructure is able to seamlessly handle traffic spikes of 3x the daily average over 12-hour periods, which occurs when a high-profile public figure wears something from the Asprey range. However, most of that traffic bounces and ends up damaging Asprey’s conversion rate. Connor explains:
These people were never going to buy this £2,000 set of earrings. We maybe make one or two sales, which is brilliant, but the reality is they are there just to look.
Adobe is also the foundation for Asprey’s new blockchain system. The retailer has started to use NFTs as a permanent, tamper-proof record of the authenticity and value of certain products. Being able to pass this information to future buyers in a secure, certified way is key to customers, who have certain expectations around the high resale value of Asprey items.
Asprey is now beginning a series of website journeys to try and direct those visitors to its more entry-point, cost-effective products. The aim is to develop a more straightforward and transactional experience so the business still makes a sale, even if it's not for the item the visitor originally came to view. Connor adds:
You can't come away looking like [REDACTED*] because you can't afford the £2,000 earrings, but you can afford the £65 bottle of perfume.
*While Asprey has a dedicated section on its website to highlight its By Royal Appointment status, it’s not allowed to talk about royal customers. As such, we have removed the name of the customer cited during this interview.