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Fashion Forum: Luxury retailers should embrace digital technology

Luxury retail can seem a world apart from the democratic culture of digital technology and ecommerce but the two can be combined, according to luxury goods group Kering.

Federico Barbieri, senior vice president of digital and e-business for Kering, which owns brands including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, said moving luxury online is a cultural - not a technical - challenge.

Speaking at Drapers’ Fashion Forum, he said: “Digital is about democratisation and speed; luxury is about exclusivity. The two cultures are so far apart. The first computers launched weren’t very good. In technology you launch something and it evolves. In luxury nothing sees the light until it’s perfect.

“But digital is changing the way people behave and the way they consume luxury products. We need to merge those cultures.”

Barbieri pointed out that luxury consumers are often the first to buy the latest technology on the market, such as new tablets or mobile devices, so luxury retailers must shelve their resistance to change.

He argued that the key to progress was to approach technology “in luxury terms”. “If you want to offer click-and-collect, make that pick-up in store experience perfect – better than anyone else.”

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