Thirty-five percent of Chinese customers are already accustomed to purchasing luxury goods online, according to a white paper published by Tencent, Secoo, and Deloitte. Even when purchasing at traditional bricks-and-mortar retail stories, Chinese shoppers will typically have explored their purchasing options online. E-commerce seems is shaping up to be a defining facet of luxury brands’ strategies in China in 2018, but each is handling the task very differently.
Five Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in China
1. The Luddite Strategy
While Chinese customers are known to be the most digitally driven of global luxury shoppers, there are brands who are still suspicious of selling online, such as Celine, Chanel, and Patek Philippe.
Thierry Stern, the president of Swiss family-owned brand Patek Philippe, told mediathat rushing to meet Chinese demand hurt many companies, railing against the very practice of purchasing online.
“You just sit in bed, look for the best price and then order. Where’s the need to do something exceptional if you go this way?” he said.
He argued that truly prestigious luxury goods take time to craft, and in return, require time for customers to understand and appreciate them. One-click purchasing can jeopardize the DNA of high-end luxury brands.
Similarly, Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Chanel Fashion, said that instead of engaging in e-commerce, the brand will focus on providing “e-service” to allow customers to make appointments and reserve items online.