May 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Luxury brands lag in adopting e-commerce, survey finds

Eight out of 10 affluent consumers worldwide use the web daily – but only one-third of luxury brands sell online, according to a new Forrester Research report.

Only one-third of luxury brands sell online – but eight out of 10 affluent and high-net-worth consumers worldwide use the web daily for researching and buying luxury goods and services, according to the recent Forrester Research Inc. report “Benchmark: Luxury sector ebusiness adoption.” The report polled 178 companies, 69% of them consumer brands, manufacturers and retailers.

While 94% of respondents have a web site, only 32% of those sites allow visitors to make purchases. And, while 60% of those with non-e-commerce web sites say they see e-retail as a potential selling channel, half have no plans to create an e-commerce site, and only 22% plan to create one in the next year. 2% say they have tried selling online and been unsuccessful.

The respondents that do sell online say that on average 12% of their sales stem from the web and that they expect that figure to rise to 22% in the next five years.


Forrester says it found a disconnect between how the consumer brands, manufacturers and retailers have traditionally sold their products, and how they believe they would have to do so online. The perception for many was that, “e-commerce meant selling like, and they felt this was inappropriate for them,” the report says.


Forrester recommends luxury brands sell online, and that they deploy personalization services such as a customized welcome back message for return visitors, and make customer service representatives easy to reach.

It also says high-end brands, which often have a large international customer base, should make shopping quick and easy and offer a wide selection of products.

Online visitors to luxury sites often are forced to navigate multiple international sites and find their way through glitzy streams of music and animation “only to find there’s little or nothing for sale,” says report author and Forrester analyst Victoria Bracewell Lewis. “Luxury e-commerce executives should instead aim to satisfy the online needs of affluent customers such as saving time and finding products.”


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