Luxury e-retailers trounce manufacturers in engaging online shoppers

But The E-tailing Group says manufacturers do a good job at branding.

Allison Enright

Online retailers that sell luxury goods do a better job of engaging consumers with such features as gifts, site search and mobile commerce than do luxury brand manufacturers also trying to sell on the web, according to The E-tailing Group.

The e-commerce consultancy’s forthcoming study, “Champagne Tastes and Caviar Dreams: A Global Look at Luxury,” measures how well luxury retailers and brands work to attract online shoppers by taking account of 289 e-commerce metrics and then ranking companies on a 100-point scale.

Based on an evaluation of 20 luxury sites selling apparel, home goods and accessories including jewelry, the consulting firm gave luxury e-retailers an average score of 74.8, compared with 61.2 for brand manufacturers. The study includes eight retail and 12 manufacturer e-commerce sites.

Nordstrom Inc. won the top overall ranking in the report, with 83 points; the retailer is No. 34 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The retail chain was followed by Saks Fifth Avenue with 81.5 points, The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. with 78.3 points and Bloomingdales with 77.8 points. The highest-rated luxury brand manufacturer is Ralph Lauren Media LLC with 76.8 points. Saks Direct, the e-retail division of Saks Fifth Avenue, is No. 38 in the Guide, Neiman Marcus is No. 39 and Ralph Lauren is No. 70. Bloomingdales is a division of No. 17-ranked Macy’s Inc.

The E-tailing Group says all of the retailers studied for the report encourage consumers to share product information via e-mail or social media, compared with 92% of manufacturers that do so. Luxury retailers more often offer incentives or perks to customers to encourage them to buy than do manufacturers. 63% of luxury retailers, for example, offer gifts with purchase compared with 8% of brand manufacturers that do so.

The study also says that retailers more frequently offer multiple ways to locate products on e-commerce sites than do manufacturers; this includes searching by color, size and keyword. Retailers also outpace manufacturers at enabling mobile commerce. 75% of the evaluated retailers have a mobile commerce presence and 63% have mobile apps. By comparison, 50% of brand manufacturers have a mobile commerce presence and half have mobile apps. 

Brand manufacturer retail sites, however, were more likely to highlight their own ad campaigns (75% of manufacturers do so, compared with 13% of retailers) and fashion shows (45% compared with 25% of retailers).


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