Has the digital era influenced Luxury Retail?

Helen Firth 13.12.2018

Luxury shopping attracts those who are happy to pay a premium for quality goods and a full shopping experience, but how has it changed in recent times?

Luxury retailers offer a full shopping experience

London’s famous Bond Street is revered throughout the world for its wealth of elegant stores, exclusive brands, designer fashion, luxury goods, fine jewels, art and antiques. Home to some of the world’s most prestigious retailers including Asprey, Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Cartier, Dolce Gabbana, Hermès, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co, it is a luxury shopper’s paradise! But how has luxury shopping changed over the last few decades?

Luxury isn’t about the latest thing on the market or the latest trends - it’s about heritage, legacy and premium quality.

Luxury shopping caters to a person’s desire to participate in a full experience rather than the simple transaction of a purchase. From the moment you walk into a Louis Vuitton or a Chanel, you are immediately greeted by a salesperson who will be with you throughout your whole experience at the store. From offering you a glass of champagne as you sit on one of their prestigious sofas, to making sure that your every need is attended to.  

A sector of the industry resistant to change

The internet changed the way the world does business. The World Wide Web offers instant access for everyone and it has become the desired medium for work, socializing, marketing, and even purchasing products and services.

So how has this new retail platform affected the luxury retail market?

In short not much! Although the rise of the internet has resulted in the closure of many High Street stores (BHS, House of Fraser, New Look and many more), with these brands shutting in excess of 100+ stores and beginning to switch to drive more sales through e-commerce, the luxury market has managed to withstand this change and the pressures that the more traditional high street stores have battled with.

So why is this? On the whole those luxury goods consumers enjoy the experience of high end shopping. If I am going to buy a Chanel handbag that can be valued at anywhere between £2,500 up to the tens of thousands, I may go onto their website to look at the bag and read the description, I may even use social media to see who on the A List may have the bag, however, I will never make that purchase online.

Luxury will remain primarily brick-and-mortar

The pervasive belief is that luxury shoppers, with their discriminating taste and preference for high-priced goods, aren’t going to buy expensive things online; they would always opt for the personalised customer service and tactile shopping experience that monobrand brick-and-mortar stores provide. Just look at Net-a-porter as a case in point – they offer an experiential service too!

So just to conclude, has the luxury market changed? Has this new digital era affected luxury? Will it affect the luxury market in the future?

In my opinion – no is the answer. Luxury retail is an experience that we all enjoy having and will continue to indulge in!

Helen Firth's picture
Senior Manager


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