October 25, 2011, 4:31 PM

Four out of five major luxury brands now have e-commerce sites

Luxury brands that engage in e-commerce nab 98% of all traffic to luxury sites.

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Luxury brand manufacturers’ hesitance to embrace e-commerce appears to be over, according to PM Digital, an online marketing agency.

A new study of the web sites of 42 luxury brand sites conducted by the marketing firm shows that 81% of those sites sell merchandise. Those luxury brand sites also command a large majority of all visits to luxury sites. 98% of traffic to luxury sites goes to sites that include e-commerce; the remaining 2% of traffic goes to sites that do not engage in e-commerce.

High-end apparel brand Ralph Lauren draws the largest audience by far. According to Experian Hitwise data used in the PM Digital study, RalphLauren.com commanded 39.2% of traffic to the 42 luxury brand sites in August, followed by LouisVuitton.com (11.8%), Gucci.com (10.9%), Michael Kors (6.6%) and Burberry (5.7%). Ralph Lauren Media is No. 70 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. Burberry Ltd. is No. 400.

Consumers who visit luxury brand sites skew younger than the average consumer visiting apparel and accessories sites. 55.6% of visitors to luxury sites are age 34 and younger, compared with 43.1% of same-age visitors to apparel and accessories sites at all price levels.

Consumers arrive at luxury brand sites most often from other apparel shopping sites (33.89%), and rarely from other luxury sites (2.22%). PM Digital says there is little cross-visiting traffic among luxury sites because luxury consumers tend to be brand loyal. “Many are not shopping across brands for a particular item but they know what they want and from whom before they arrive,” the report says. “No doubt, legacy print and TV media campaigns have done the job of instilling brand differentiation.”

Search engines are the second most common source of traffic to luxury brand sites, generating 33.10% of traffic. Google Inc. alone comprised 25.11% of all traffic to the sites in August. Social networks generated a total of 9.87% of referral traffic in August. Facebook alone comprised 7.12% of all traffic. Generating the least amount of traffic to luxury brand sites are comparison shopping engines (1.43%) and group deal and flash sale sites. PM Digital says that luxury-minded flash sale retailers, such as Gilt Groupe Inc. (No. 49 in the Guide), ideeli (No. 310) and RueLaLa have generated a lot of buzz this year, but have had no significant halo effect for luxury brand sites, generating just 0.29% of referral traffic in August.    

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