How Fendi and Cartier won at digital, beating their luxury competitors

Prada and Tiffany just don’t measure up digitally but sector peers Fendi and Cartier are getting it right, according to new report research from fashion and luxury brands specialist ContactLab.

How did its analysts reach those conclusions? Simple really – they ordered two items each (a men’s cardholder and a women’s belt) from 29 different luxury e-tail sites.

Then they used 67 different parameters to analyse where the vendors got it right physically (for instance, packaging, documents, delivery and returns) and digitally (abandoned shopping carts, ordering, communications).

The conclusion overall was that luxury brands could be losing consumers who aren’t satisfied with their service.

The brands they looked at included Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Hermès, Cartier, Tiffany, and Armani, among other leading luxury players.

On physical touchpoints, Fendi, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Mytheresa and Mr Porter came out top. Digitally, the winners were Balenciaga, Net-A-Porter, Saint Laurent, Zegna and Armani.

The losers for physical touch points were Givenchy, Prada, Valentino, Armani and Tiffany, and digitally they were Hermès, Ferragamo, Loro Piana, Tiffany and Prada.

It was interesting that Burberry, which is usually ranked so highly for its digital prowess, only came midway in the two lists that were very focused on the shopping journey rather than the brand-building ‘other’ content at which Burberry excels.

ContactLab CEO Massimo Fubini said: “Consumers pay a lot of money for products from these luxury brands and they expect the whole experience to have that luxury feeling. Brands must go that bit further at every single stage of the consumer journey, but very few are fulfilling their full potential.”

“He said many brands are missing ‘the little touches which make all the difference’,” especially on packaging.

The research generally praised LVMH’s brands (Louis Vuitton also scored highly) but said Kering still has work to do, especially around its star Gucci brand.

The study found that the 29 brands looked at are reaching less than half of their maximum potential on both Physical Touch Points (46%) and Digital Touch Points (45%).

Purplay e-tailers scored highly with Yoox-Net-a-Porter and Mytheresa both doing well. But there was a warning for pureplay companies that have been pioneers in the field of luxury e-tail.

ContactLab said their “first mover advantage” could erode with newcomers catching up, as Fendi has done despite coming late to the e-tail party.

It said that if luxury brands embark on digital, the imperative for them is to be at least as good as those “industry standard” pureplay e-tailers, but the “economics are bound to be stronger for those luxury brands” than for the pureplays.

Customer acquisition costs will also remain lower for luxury goods incumbents for a very long time, given their cumulated brand investments and relative scale, ContactLab believes.

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