You can't sell luxury online

You can't sell luxury online

By Tim Vandergriend

LVMH says NO WAY will it do business with Amazon


Having marketed a number of LVMH brands online, I understand first-hand the challenges with selling luxury goods on the internet. 


Ecommerce websites (online stores) have been tested and don't work, for obvious reasons.


The challenge in engaging clients online, is to not diminish the value of the product that an in-person, in-store experience gives. Luxury brands essentially sell goods for many times the raw material cost, based purely around brand experience and perceptual influencers like scarcity and social proof. This is difficult to achieve online.


Amazon in its current form is not the right channel for LVMH. I agree. But...


Just because LVMH (and other luxury brands) haven't yet identified a model that does work, doesn’t mean you can’t sell luxury online.


To say definitively that you can’t, ignores the reality that offline and online are no longer distinct channels.  


Digital technology and our interaction with it, has evolved significantly in the last few years. So much so that the boundaries between offline and online have been blurred.  We can now give consumers a more human experience around search, education and purchase of luxury brands online.


Consider recent developments in live messaging, concierge apps, video chat, beacons, proximity tagging, augmented reality, to name but a few.  There are now many ways to engage clients digitally that are far different than the traditional ecommerce model we are familiar with. 


I’m not sure saying outright no to Amazon is the right answer. Why not work with Amazon collaboratively to build a vision of luxury that embraces digital and online interaction?


Amazon have vast technical capabilities and resources to make almost anything happen in the digital medium. Skills and expertise that luxury brands lack. And consider also that Amazon is also building out physical stores and will continue to become a more dominant retail force.  What if... they create a complementary premium brand (call it L'Amazon Premiere or whatever)?.  One that intuitively engages with high spending consumers without going to a store, yet still provides luxury experience.


Amazon might not understand luxury, but that’s what a collaboration would aim to achieve. Creating something greater than the sum of the parts.



Only our imagination can limit us from creating a high conversion online luxury retail experience. We need to overcome our fear and experiment further. 


If luxury is your area and want advice, insights or pointers to market online, feel free to contact me.