We're definitely guilty of taking a Sunday cruise through Neiman Marcus or Barneys to try on Tom Ford shades, pet some Valextra bags, and scoop up a L'Artisan sample or two. And, if we do buy, we tend to do it later, online, and after much deliberation. Turns out, what we're doing is called "showrooming" — not just bumming around Barneys. And, luxury retailers are not thrilled about it.
The Wall Street Journal reports that an increasing number of consumers are pulling the ol' "browse in-store, shop online" routine. And, much like how Amazon's rise hurt mass brick-and-mortar stores, like Borders bookstores, our high-end showrooming may be hurting designers. LVMH, parent company to Céline, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and others, have reported slowing sales.
While high-end department stores have made major strides in capturing the booming e-commerce market, WSJ reports that the actual luxury brands "are ill-placed to benefit from the boom in online sales." Contributing to that, of course, is these labels' notorious reluctance to establish an online presence — brands like Céline or Chanel don't offer e-shopping at all. Whether it's the idea that the luxury clientele doesn't mesh with Internet bargain hunters or concerns that the pampering in-store experience could not be replicated online, many of these labels seem to believe that online luxury shopping is simply not done, dahling. Meanwhile, upscale department stores like Net-A-Porter and Neiman Marcus have swooped into the void and locked up the high-end e-commerce market.
But, it turns out that fancy-pants people buy online for the same reason the rest of us do: convenience. If sales continue to slow, fashion houses may have to realize that it behooves them to offer their most well-heeled customers access to luxury goods 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world. We're sure any woman who's ever been so ready to pull the trigger on a Luggage tote at 3 a.m. will rejoice. (The Wall Street Journal)