Is online the new destination for luxury?

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Is online the new destination for luxury?

What was almost a non-existent sales channel ten years ago, today luxury e-commerce represents between 4% to 6% of the €200bn luxury goods market worldwide.

Many leading luxury brands are no longer worried about the inability to recreate a luxury shopping experience on the Internet.  As a result, there has been considerable growth in online retailers specialised in luxury e-commerce and sites for own prestige brands continue to flourish.

Last week, it was Victoria Beckham’s turn to unveil her brand new e-commerce site victoriabeckham.com. With carefully selected stores across the world up until now, Victoria Beckham’s label now available online is another great example.

So, is the Internet becoming an additional threat for the retail property sector when it comes to luxury?

A unique shopping experience is expected when it comes to luxury – customers want to feel special as soon as they step into the store. The difference with other shopping experiences, is that luxury buyers expect to be recognised and provided with personal attention.

To recreate this feeling of exclusivity online, retailers are offering special and attentive services to their customers, very similar to what they could get in their stores. They use their websites as a digital platform to showcase the brand, posting videos, look book and latest advertising campaigns. Not everything is available online, but brands use online to offer exclusive services. For example, on the Louis Vuitton website customers can customise their handbags, this service is not available in stores.

One area that luxury online shopping has to excel in is packaging and delivery. They are essential components that round off the online luxury experience and represent the only opportunity the brand will physically interact with the customer.

This needs more than anything to not just recreate but in some ways exceed the retail shopping experience. Hermès guarantees a delivery of its ties in three hours for example. And coming back to Victoria Beckham, she offers bespoke packaging as well as same day delivery to customers in London and New-York.

But if we consider that 70% of European customers have visited a brand website to get product information before buying the luxury good in store, then, really, more than a threat, online shopping is an addition to traditional retail. E-commerce avoids geographical and time constraints but once again, nothing will ever replace the multi-sensory experience when entering a luxury shop.

Charlotte Fougères, Account Manager

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