2021 Luxury Brands: Earning Trust With UX

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Luxury Brands: Earning Trust With UX

SEASON 2 episode 2:
2021 Luxury Brands: Earning Trust With UX

Trust building is both essential and challenging for online retailers.

For luxury goods merchants, this is especially challenging, given how critical the shopping experience is for converting sales. That experience absolutely must transfer online.

In this episode of Gateway to E-Commerce, Michael Burpoe, Director of User Experience at Punchmark joins Denise Purtzer, ClearSale’s Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances to explore how luxury goods ecommerce retailers can step up their UX and make their customers’ experience the focus.

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Who are your hosts?

  • denise-purtzer

    Denise Purtzer

    is ClearSale’s Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances. She has 20 years of experience in ecommerce and knows the landscape from every angle, for every size business, in every market. Denise lives for connecting the right people to make things happen.

  • Michael Burpoe

    Michael Burpoe

    is the Lead UI/UX Designer for Punchmark. He's passionate about the importance of good User Experience, and instructs on the use of Punchmark’s content management system during weekly livestreams. He hosts the jewelry ecommerce-centric podcast, In the Loupe, available on all platforms. 

Podcast Episode Recap

WHAT MAKES CUSTOMERS TRUST A LUXURY GOODS MERCHANT’S ECOMMERCE SITES?

Luxury goods retailers had no choice but to make the transition to ecommerce during the pandemic, but that wasn’t a guarantee that their customers would follow. They had to establish trust.

What the folks at Punchmark were able to do for their clients was create websites that established trust – and got the sale. Their efforts generated a 578% growth in customer sales and a 510% growth in customer orders – with average transactions increasing by 13%.

How does Punchmark help make this happen?

• Punchmark focuses on website usability so customers can find products easily.
• Punchmark uses categorization to help customers get as close as possible to their ideal product.
• Punchmark creates checkout flows that are nearly impossible to abandon – and customers don’t want to!

HOW LUXURY GOODS MERCHANTS CAN INCREASE REACH AND REVENUE

When it comes to a superior ecommerce presence, hand in hand with UX comes storytelling. Luxury goods merchants particularly need to focus on how their products can be used and seen by people. As such, the who, when, and where of selling is extremely important.

How this is accomplished in a virtual environment relies on the partners luxury ecommerce retailers choose for their design, digital growth, and payment portals to help facilitate sales:

• They can leverage social media marketing – like Facebook auctions – and millennial influencers.
• They can incorporate text marketing and selling into their strategy
• They should select the most trusted and most utilized payment processors for check out.

 

Luxury goods and fashion may have taken a hit during the pandemic, but they are coming back faster than styles are changing. And we’ve got your comprehensive guide to this lucrative market.

Luxury goods landing page

 

episode Transcript

Podcast Intro

You're listening to Gateway to E-Commerce, a podcast by ClearSale. In this series, global ecommerce leaders discuss challenges, best practices, new tech and secrets to success, and now your host, Denise.

Denise Purtzer

Welcome back to the Gateway to E-Commerce podcast. I'm Denise Purtzer, VP of Partnerships and Alliances here at ClearSale. Building trust is one of the most challenging things for luxury goods merchants to accomplish online, and when it comes to luxury ecommerce, you really have to step up your CX game. The consumer experience has to be top of mind in everything that you do. I'm excited to bring one of our partners to the table today, Michael Burpoe, who comes to us from Punchmark.

Michael has worked in the luxury goods space for several years now, behind the scenes as web designer and lead UI/UX Designer. More recently, he's now the Director Of User Experience. Michael's going to share some of his tips and tricks with us today, and welcome, Michael.

Michael Burpoe

Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Denise.

Denise Purtzer

Now, Punchmark is an ecommerce and digital marketing platform, and it's designed, really with jewelers in mind. Tell us the story about Punchmark and how it came into being if you wouldn't mind

Michael Burpoe

Absolutely. Punchmark is a web platform, specifically in the jewelry industry. What that does is it actually gives us a unique advantage over kind of a more generic one, such as like a Wix or Squarespace, and that we can market directly and have features that are tailored specifically to the jewelry industry. These are things that relate to, for example, the price of gold, and also to linking in with different jewelry vendors and carrying their products and product images, and also different digital marketing capabilities like ways to promote your landing pages and your grid. We're kind of tailored specifically for mom and pop shops, and I don't love that term, but more like the smaller retailer, and it also scales up.

We have some people that are doing close to half a million online and able to move some serious numbers when it comes to selling their jewelry online. It's pretty cool. We have a digital marketing team in-house that ties right into our platform, and we also have a website management tool that, which we call site manager in the backend of the platform, which makes it so you don't have to know how to like code or you don't need to know how to really do anything other than follow some instructions, and we have instructionals that tie right into it, so even if you've never used a real website management tool before, you should be pretty close to managing it right away.

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Denise Purtzer

That's great. One of the interesting things ... We just got back from the Atlanta Jewelry Show, where we get to spend some time with your team, wish you were there as well, but maybe next time.

Michael Burpoe

Yeah. I appreciate that. Maybe next time.

Denise Purtzer

Maybe next time.

Michael Burpoe

Yeah.

Denise Purtzer

One of the things that I find so interesting about the jewelry industry is that most of these merchants that you're working with are truly omnicommerce. They're starting out with a brick and mortar store, and then they're rolling out ecommerce, and a lot of that has been that due to that huge shift that we've all seen in the last year and moving to that online sales experience.

Michael Burpoe

Massive.

Denise Purtzer

Can you share some of the things that Punchmark has experienced with this shift that's happened

Michael Burpoe

I like to say that things happened very slow, and then suddenly very fast. I've read some stats somewhere. This one, I don't fully know, but I saw that there was 10 years of market penetration for ecommerce sales over the course of, I think it was 10 months, so they were seeing incrementally 1% additional year over year, and then they saw 10% over the course of 10 months. That's just staggering, but some stats that we saw on our sites, so these are pulled from Punchmark websites, we saw a 578% growth in customer sales, and then we also had a 510% growth in customer orders, so you can see that people are relying online and more people are selling online, and what's even crazier, it was we saw that the average transaction amount went up by 13%. With that 13%, that means that people are more willing to trust online shopping and they're more willing to actually put their dollars into something that they've never seen before and are physically touched, and that's a big deal for luxury.


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The whole kind of thing that we're trying to push when it comes to how can you sell better, it's that a lot of it is that trust factor. When you go in and, I mean, you've seen a knockoff Rollie on the beach before, well, how do you know that that isn't what you're looking at online? There are a lot of things too. It's not just having a good product photo, which is very important, but it's also about the storytelling, how you're talking about that, that piece, the accoutrements that go with it, so your site's branding, making sure that when someone, whether it's a baby boomer that's slightly older or even a millennial or a Gen Z who are looking at this website, are they going to be able to discern that this website and the products that they're offering are indeed legit, quality, all those things that you would get when you walk into a store and actually hold that piece in your hand? How can you get that online?

Denise Purtzer

That's great that you've mentioned that because we commissioned a study with -- an independent study with Sapio Research -- and it's just being released, so we're going to have that as a resource in the show notes here, but in the 2021 Global Ecommerce Consumer Behavior Analysis, we found that fashion and luxury customers obviously expect more personalization, but that means that they're also going to have to provide more data to get that personalization. You mentioned a few things here, but [you] could tell us a little bit more about what else goes into trust that site so that they're willing to give that information to get that personalization?

Michael Burpoe

I like to start with the branding and the kind of overall kind of touch of a website. This could be anything from your site's logo, your colors, your verbiage in your voice that are used, so that's something that's overlooked a lot of time. How can you stand out and make it so that they actually know who you are, if they've never even met you, but then it also comes into easy to use, so this goes into that user experience aspect. People love to bring up UX as a buzz word, but what that actually means is just, how usable is your website? Can you find products really easily?


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Another aspect is the product categorization. Again, this ties into UX, but product categorization is so important because going onto it and dropping someone in, for example, a jewelry category or just all jewelry and they're in their mind, they're thinking, "Oh, I want to shop hoop earrings," well, showing them and having them sift through engagement rings and necklaces and bracelets just to get to those hoop earrings, I mean, the time on page is so quick. Some of these people, they're bouncing within 10 seconds, they're bouncing within a minute if they don't like what they see, and getting them as close as possible to their ideal product makes the shopping and chance of checkout even greater.

Denise Purtzer

I think that's a great point. I think we should also take the lead from some of the largest brands out there when we're thinking about what we're doing on our site, right?

Michael Burpoe

Oh, yeah.

Denise Purtzer

For instance, Burberry created an augmented retailer experience, and so what they did was like, for instance, they're selling handbags, which are still in the luxury market, but I want to see what that handbag looks like with my killer outfit that I've got, and they give you an augmented reality experience to do just that. How could merchants take that experience and apply it to their site

Michael Burpoe

I love that you are bringing up Burberry but other sites that aren't just in jewelry, and one thing that I've learned when it comes to speaking with, especially jewelry retailers, is that talking about other jewelry websites to them, it's kind of doesn't land as well. It's sometimes, it's like going out to dinner with your spouse, and then pointing over to that person at the next table and being like, "Isn't that person so beautiful?" It's like it can be not as easy to listen to, but you bring a Burberry. Do you know what else Burberry does? They have this checkout experience that is just so refined, that you actually don't even realize that the entire navigation and footer actually disappears from the website when you're in the process of checking out, and one thing that we've learned from them is that when you're getting closer to the end checkout experience, what we call the cart checkout flow, that is as close as possible to them actually spending the money, of course, and it's kind of in the similar vein as when you're in a physical store, for example, a Michael's, in our supply store.


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There's a reason why they put you inside of that kind of maze, it's because they don't want you realizing, "Oh, the line is so long. I want to dash away," instead, they make it so it's kind of hard to exit. Same thing with Burberry or with these other major retailers. They want to make it so that once you're there, would take away the distractions, would focus and zero in on how to make it so it's as flawless of an experience as possible, put your card in, your details, let's get you out, and then if you want to shop more, fine, but in the meantime, let's not distract you.

Denise Purtzer

While we're there, let's talk about that, that actually putting the information in to make that purchase right. I think that one of the things that's interesting, and I came from a background of payments and alternative payments, what are merchants thinking about with luxury goods for those types of things, whether it be a wallet or alternative payments? What should they consider there?

Michael Burpoe

Well, when it comes to spending the money, you want to make it so that they can spend it however they want to, and so that comes to accepting every card type, it comes to accepting Apple Pay or even Bitcoin. A lot of our clients are accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum. Sometimes it comes to, “Do you want to split it up with financing options?” and we're finding that financing has a huge impact on your rate of checkout. For example, we integrate with Sezzle, which allows you to split into, I believe four payments, and then we also integrate with Affirm, which allows you to split in, I think like up to 12 or something like that, but what we're seeing is that people like to see everything laid out in front of them.” How many payments is there going to be? How much a month or how much every payment?” and that kind of, again, that confidence and that trust like we had mentioned earlier is that sort of thing that allows people to checkout and be willing to give you several $100 on a product that they've actually never touched before.


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Denise Purtzer

Maybe even buy that purchase without letting their significant other know about it so it could be a surprise, so it's even got that quality to it too. Another site, which is in jewelry is Swarovski. They built a virtual reality showroom so that you can actually go in and purchase by just simply nodding. It kind of brings that personalized experience into play. Now, not everybody's going to be able to invest and build something like that in, but I think it's important for merchants to think beyond that same process flow that they may see over and over and offer something different because I think they have to consider that more and more jewelry merchants are entering the space and they need to stand out, right?

Michael Burpoe

Absolutely, and it's that storytelling element that I'm always trying to push on people. How can you offer, again, the in-store experience from the comfort of their own home, whether that means we have, I think called the engagement ring designer or builder so you can pick out your diamond, you can pick out the setting, and then you can checkout with it? What that actually does is a lot of the times, it doesn't actually mean that you're going to buy what you just put together. It's more along the lines of you are experiencing it in a tactile way, even though you're not touching it, that you're able to become familiar with the product and you're able to make these harder decisions when it comes to the product. Do you want it in gold?

Do you want it in platinum? Do you want it to have a split shank? Do you want it to be Pavé? Knowing those decisions, they're the ones that you never thought. When I asked my brother, "Hey, what kind of engagement ring are you going to buy for McKayla when he was making his decision, he was like, "What do you mean? I'm just going to buy an engagement ring."

Well, there are extra steps that go along with it, and by having that experience, like you said, whether that's through AR, VR or just having a quality image in front of them or even something like a gift or a movie that allows the product to spin, and then they can see it from a three-dimensional kind of view, that's the sort of thing that, again, provides that trust and allows people to make those higher ticket purchases.


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Denise Purtzer

Prior to coming into the ecommerce experience, I was working in retail for about seven years, and one thing I learned was that there were a lot of shoppers out there that are not confident shoppers. They want to look good, they want to buy something that's good, but they don't always know how to go about that. Given that shopper in mind, to me, it feels like ecommerce could be the perfect scenario for them to feel comfortable, to shop when they want. It could be 1:00 in the morning. It could be whenever, right?

Michael Burpoe

Absolutely.

Denise Purtzer

They don't have to go into a store and get mobbed what they feel like mobbed with people to go ahead and make one of the biggest decisions of their life if it's an engagement ring. What are some of the things that come into play in your mind when you think about that type of shopper?

Michael Burpoe

It's really funny you said like 1:00 at night. Here's a true story. The largest purchase we've ever seen that came through a website and was legit, everything, someone bought an over $10,000 diamond from a website, and they bought it. It was like 2:35 AM on a Saturday night, and this guy bought this diamond.

Denise Purtzer

Their time, right?

Michael Burpoe

Yeah, their time and bought this diamond, and the guy whose store it was, he wakes up, he's going to go to church, thinks, "Oh, there's a fraud." It was as legit as it gets, and that's the kind of thing. If that doesn't exemplify that sometimes people, they want that comfort, they want to be able to sit down and take it slow, read all the specs, maybe they want to read the GIA report and find out how, where this origin was for this diamond, that's what we're seeing, is people right now, they want every type of detail that comes into this product and they want to know and be confident that they're buying the right thing. One more thing if you don't mind, when it comes to products, and again, not being as able to make decisions for themselves, that's also one of the reasons why I love model photography, but also lifestyle photography, is that you can see how these people are wearing their jewelry or wearing their products. You mentioned pocket books.


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How about showing this pocket book being used and not just on a stand, but also being used in the street or at a shoot, and you can see how they paired that product with their clothes, and then suddenly, they're one step closer, like, "Oh, they're wearing that Rolex with a plain white t-shirt." It's like, "I could pull that off," and then suddenly, they're buying into the story of actually wearing that piece of jewelry.

Denise Purtzer

Speaking of which, I would think that social media could play into that majorly, right?

Michael Burpoe

Definitely. Yeah, we work with, again, The Smithee Group. They're a digital growth agency, and we work with them to produce In the Loupe, our podcast, and they primarily focus on social marketing and social strategy, and they are so creative when it comes to how you can leverage your social platform, so everybody, when you think of that, you're probably like, "Oh, it'd probably be a good idea to try to post a product to sell," but we can also do, again, the storytelling aspect, but I've already harped on that enough, but there are also creative ways that you can sell. We heard in the beginning of lockdown, we heard in March, April, May some of our clients are doing the most creative Facebook auctions you have ever seen, where they would pick six products and they would do one, and they would have a 10-minute timer, and they would put one up and they said the bidding starts at whatever, $100, and then they just talk about the product and they're doing it kind of like ... What was that show? Antiques Roadshow?

Denise Purtzer

Yeah.

Michael Burpoe

Very similar to that. They're talking about it, and they're telling the story, and suddenly, they're selling it for nearly as much as the ticket value was going to be, and they were able to turn over their product, liquidate sometimes if they needed to, and really just drive home some sales that they didn't think that they could.

Denise Purtzer

That's cool. That makes me think of some of our other options that you see out there like online chat and that sort of thing. How does that play into an ecommerce site for a luxury goods provider?


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Michael Burpoe

Another plug for one of our partners, Podium, and they've actually sponsored our podcast before, so Podium has a web chat, which I think is industry leading. It's, allows you to have real-time texting conversations and you can also do text marketing if you wish, but again, that personal touch. We are so surrounded by [teching 00:17:44] and digital age and everything like that, that having that type of personal touch and knowing that there's a human on the other end is just, I think there's so much to it. I love ... My parents, they won't deal with AIs or bots or anything like that.

They need to know that there's a human on the other end, and again, ties right into that trust and confidence factor that allows people to actually checkout when they know that someone's on the other end.

Denise Purtzer

That's so true, and there are options out there that allow you to do it with an online person as well, so if you want to take it to the next level, that's another opportunity. Let's talk millennials. I think millennials are quite interesting in this environment because looking at some stats, like eMarketer stated that nearly 86% of millennials are digital shoppers, so you know you've got a captive audience, but with that, they raised the bar high because they command and demand a lot when it comes to their experience and it's ... After all, I mean, they've been raised digitally so I can see why. Given that, what are some of the things that you can build into your experience to cater to millennials and thus grab other business as well?


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Michael Burpoe

One thing we're seeing with millennials is we're seeing that there is a, the highest rate of, they're very discerning when it comes to what is legit, what's a scam or what is not as it appears. We're also seeing that they're ... It's such a cliche and I'm a millennial, so it's such a cliche to say they have a very short attention span, but what we are seeing is that they have a very quick bounce rate, which is the rate of visiting a page, and then leaving it, and we are finding that if you don't have a website that loads quickly and that there's a whole ball of wax that goes with that, so having optimized images and fast-loading tech behind it, they're going to leave, and they're not even going to let you tell the story or show them your beautiful photos. It's also important about getting them the story quickly, so we're finding that getting the opportunity to load things in quicker, tell your story as fast as possible, offer them as much information as they should learn, then you're able to captivate that audience.

Denise Purtzer

What about that vintage factor, because a lot of the reading I've done around jewelry and clothing for that matter is that millennials like vintage, right? How could you incorporate that into your site?

Michael Burpoe

I think that vintage, it needs to be done well, so it's not vintage for the sake of it being old. It's vintage for the sake of it being retro maybe, but more along the lines of, I don't know very many people who are just wearing old things. It's the fact of pairing it with a new approach or giving it a modern twist that is very enticing for the shoppers. I think whether that means jewelry, in jewelry we call it estate, and with that, we're seeing people love wearing estate jewelry with modern jewelry and allowing it to kind of shine in its own kind of unique way.


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Denise Purtzer

More of a curated approach, which could be accomplished via social media again too, and those images and that story you want to tell.

Michael Burpoe

I believe so.

Denise Purtzer

It all ties together, doesn't it?

Michael Burpoe

I think so.

Denise Purtzer

Well, this has all been amazing information. I want to get to know you a little bit better, so I think it'd be really fun at this point to go to hit you with some speed questions and understand you as a person little a bit more.

Michael Burpoe

Appreciate that.

Denise Purtzer

Cats or dogs?

Michael Burpoe

Definitely dogs.

Denise Purtzer

Any in particular in your life?

Michael Burpoe

I've always wanted a husky forever. I want to go for runs with my dog, but if I get a husky, I got to move up north where it's colder.

Denise Purtzer

Where's your dream vacation?

Michael Burpoe

Oh, man, I actually was planning on visiting New Zealand sometime in 2020. This was one of my January goals, was I was going to visit New Zealand, and unfortunately that doesn't happen, but I'd like to Auckland, I think. It'd be really, really cool.

Denise Purtzer

Does that tie into the first place you want to travel once we can safely travel again? Would it be New Zealand or elsewhere?

Michael Burpoe

Oh, man. Honestly, my first place I'm probably going to travel to, I think it would be really nice to go home and see all my friends and give a lot of hugs out, but I think New Zealand would be pretty sick too.

Denise Purtzer

Name a food you absolutely won't eat.

Michael Burpoe

Oh, won't eat. Oh, that's a great question. Weird thing ... I'm the youngest of three boys, so I really didn't have a choice when it came to what I was going to eat. It was pretty much eat or you're going to not eat, and what ...

I just don't love raw peppers, raw like red peppers, raw bell peppers. They're just kind of like a weird crunch. I'll eat them cooked, I'll eat them everything. Not my favorite, but honestly, if you're like, "This is what's for dinner," I'd probably still eat them.


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Denise Purtzer

I'm in agreement with you and put raisins on the list for me too.

Michael Burpoe

Raisins, really?

Denise Purtzer

Yeah. I don't like the consistency. Name the weirdest food you've eaten.

Michael Burpoe

When I visited Morocco, I went to Marrakesh, and I went all around the border of Morocco. I had camel, and one thing that's ... They cook it with a lot of spices. One thing that's weird about camel is it's surprisingly like low in fat and I felt like it had a very bland flavor. Maybe it was the way it was cooked, but definitely kind of like a strange one. It's supposed to be really high in protein, but not my greatest thing, but that makes a good story.

Denise Purtzer

Definitely, and there's not enough Moroccan good spice to spice it up, huh? A little bit of intel tells me that you're an artist outside of the digital world actually, so what is your favorite medium to work in?

Michael Burpoe

That's, I feel like you've laid yourself off on that one. I love it. It's, I love watercolor. I've been doing watercolor. I actually picked it up in earnest back in March when we went into, yeah, when we went into the lockdown and I was using it.

I didn't really believe 100% in art therapy ahead of this, and now, I really believe in it because when I was staying at home, I didn't see anybody. I lived by myself. I was using art as a way to kind of teleport in time. I would finish work, paint a picture, and then I'd be ready to go to bed.

Denise Purtzer

Behind the scenes, I found out also that you are an ice castle builder. Tell us a little bit about that.


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Michael Burpoe

What a good cut. That's a deep cut. It's like Sean Evans from Hot Ones level interview question. Yeah, my hometown, we have this very cool tradition, cool tradition of winter carnival, and we've been having it for, I think 120 years at this point, and we cut ice blocks out of the lake and we build massive castles, and we do it every single year, and I've helped a lot of years in a row. What these ...
To give you an idea of the scale, one block weighs, I believe two tons, and they are, I believe two feet by four feet by three feet or something like that, depending on how thick the ice is, and we take cranes and we use pretty old style tools, and we build these giant palaces made of solid ice, and we enjoy it for as long as we can, and then when it starts to melt, we knock it down and let it go back into the lake.

Denise Purtzer

Amazing.

Michael Burpoe

Yeah.

Denise Purtzer

Not many people, I don't think, at least no one that I've met to this day can say that they build website and customer experience, as well as ice castles, so well done.

Michael Burpoe

I feel like I've got that market cornered right now.

Denise Purtzer

Great. Well, thank you so much for sharing not only your knowledge, but also a little bit about yourself. It was great getting to know you on a different level today. I wanted to let everybody know that we are going to share in our notes some information about not only what we've learned today with the 2021 global report on consumer behaviors, but also the link to In the Loupe, which is the podcast that Michael hosts, and it's created by the Punchmark and Smithee Groups. We'll also share information on our main takeaways, which we focused on the consumer experience today and what needs to be taken into account and the creative ways to go above and beyond on the consumer experience to be a successful site.

Michael, if they want to find you, I believe they can find you on LinkedIn. You want to share where


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Michael Burpoe

Absolutely. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also send an email to designteam@punchmark.com, and that'll definitely reach out to me. You can also find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, pretty much anywhere you can get podcasts. We do In the Loupe, and that's spelled L-O-U-P-E like the thing you grade jewelry with, and we cover things like digital marketing, ecommerce, tips and strategies, and we ... It's not a sales pitch.

It's more of an education and advocacy for these topics. We just want you to be aware of them so that you can make your own decisions from there.

Denise Purtzer

Great. Thank you for joining us. The Gateway to E-Commerce podcast can also be found on all the major channels. We'd love to have you join and follow us. Thanks again, Michael, for being here today. We appreciate you talking about the luxury goods.

Michael Burpoe

Thank you so much, Denise. I really appreciate your time.

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