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Luxury brands have, for the most part, been famously slow on the uptake with launching an e-commerce component, holding on to the old idea that nothing can replicate the in-store experience. Exhibit umpteen is Céline. However, according to WSJ, "showrooming" (browsing in store then making price comparisons and buying online) has hit the luxury sector in full force, causing many brands to reevaluate the way they do e-commerce.
Within the past 15 years, instead of heightening their internet presence, many luxury brands have poured billions into opening new stores. Now new market research has come out in favor of those brands who put effort into both channels. Investment research company Exane BNP Paribas, for example, found that online and in-store luxury shoppers spend twice as much per year than customers who only shop in the brick-and-mortar stores.
Meanwhile, department stores and online-only luxury retailers are reaping in the benefits. According to the article, "They act as wholesalers, at a time when many luxury houses are reducing their exposure to wholesale sales to reap the higher margins in their own distribution channels."
Even with this new data, luxury brands are cautious about expanding their online presence too quickly. Some still hold fast to the argument that the in-store experience will always trump shopping online, while others worry about the price transparency that comes with e-commerce, even speculating that it will eventually kill off the brick-and-mortar buying experience.