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‘Luxury sites need a balance of branding and trading’

Sophie Albizua, Co-founder of ecommerce consultancy eNova Partnership.

A few years ago, many luxury goods management teams could be heard saying they wouldn’t sell online.
Nowadays, 70% of luxury clothing brands do. However, few luxury websites achieve cult status, for a simple reason - branding and trading don’t mix well. Branding is an emotional journey full of imagery and senses; trading is a practical journey where information and delivery options matter.

Most websites belong to one category or the other. While the likes of Paul & Joe and Miu Miu are more functional, Chloé or Chanel’s focus almost exclusively on branding. With websites being the initial start point for 70% of luxury transactions, online now needs to achieve both objectives.

Many brands are guilty of going so far one way that neither objective is met. Over-servicing but under-delivering technically on the brand experience, for example, means consumers are greeted by a countdown placeholder for 10 seconds while videos load. Inversely, brands such as DKNY offer such a functional website that the essence of the brand can be lost.

With 5% of luxury purchases happening online, versus 10% for the total fashion market, there is much to aim for.

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