While the world of retail is transmuting into the digital era and more and more brands uptake or launch e-Commerce platforms Chanel is taking a stance.
Futuristic thinking was all over the launch of Chanel’s 2017 Spring/Summer collection last week in France, opened by two robots, followed by futuristic models carrying digitised clutches and laptop holders.
Despite this, the designer label is far from any kind of launch into the e-commerce space, according to the Chanel’s president Bruno Palovsky. The brand says it has no plans to make Chanel’s ready-to-wear collections available online universally anytime soon.
According to Palovsky, there are two things that define a luxury brand; customers look at the quality of the product, and then exclusivity. “We need to not forget in this world where everything is digital, that keeping this exclusivity is an important way to engage with customers,” Palovsky told Vogue.
During the early days of online retail, Chanel tested out the e-commerce market to see what would happen, but the brand quickly pulled out because it wanted to maintain some exclusivity.
Palovsky says Chanel uses the digital era in a different way than labels like Burberry and Tom Ford. Rather than using its digital reach to sell products, Chanel uses it to gain insight into what their consumers want from the “Chanel experience” and how they can offer a better service.
“What we can achieve online is to give strong editorial to our customers. Many different media can do this also, influencers, bloggers, many people. But that will never replace the feeling of being in a fitting room. It’s about being able to try the product, to test the product and also for us to be able to have conversations with the customers in the boutique to explain and suggest options. A lot of people (consumers) want to keep this relationship,” Palovsky explained.
“E-commerce is more about buying something and if you don’t like it then you send it back, which is difficult to do with what we are doing, so we try to keep something back.”
An element of Chanel’s e-commerce conundrum that also lies in the luxury experience, is catering for demand in different regions. According to Palovsky, the trends in New York are far different to what consumers are doing in Asia, highlighting the importance of respecting that consumers in different parts of the world don’t want the same things.
The company also recently harmonised its worldwide pricing structure in 2015, allowing customers to buy its products on home-ground, without having to travel to take advantage of price fluctuations between countries. Chanel attributes this as one of the key drivers it’s doing so well globally, saying the initial risk has now paid off.