VC to sell on-line???

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Richemont One Step Closer To Group Brands Enjoying Online Sales
by Ariel Adams (RSS feed)
Apr 2nd 2010 at 10:01PM

I recall discussions with people in the luxury industry just months ago complaining about how the Internet will never replace the "in store" luxury buying experience. Claims of "we will never sell online" were uttered with regularity. While this was the mantra of many, the undeniable marketing power of the Internet is becoming more and more clear to luxury brand executives who can no longer ignore the allure of online sales (or the failures of in-store sales). When it comes down to it, price is not the only reason people buy online, it is convenience and sheer product availability. You can love a product and want to buy it, though you won't if you can't get it in your town. The Internet remedies all that. Plus, most luxury buyers go online to discover and research brands, so isn't it logical that they will want to purchase there as well?

All this seems pretty clear to the Richemont Group who recently announced the acquisition of, an online luxury item retailer. I believe that the deal which involves the acquisition of a controlling volume of share is not 100% complete, but will more than likely lead to Richemont Group owning a controlling interesting in the NET-A-PORTER limited, the controlling company behind the site. is UK run, and has been enjoying a healthy level of online luxury sales since its inception is 2000. While it has a silly-for-luxury name, the site clearly understands what it takes to sell luxury items online. The Richemont Groups owns a number of watch and jewelry brands, including IWC, Cartier, Panerai, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and more. At this time does not sell watches.

I predict that Richemont was interested in NET-A-PORTER not only because of the site's success (and profits), but also to learn about successful practices for selling luxury goods online. The careful company has been planning an increase in online marketing for its brands, and at least online sales for some of them (e.g. Cartier). I personally predict that most of the Richemont Group brands will be "officially" available for sale online in the future - and that Richemont themselves will be the entity selling the good as opposed to the traditional network of third-party authorized dealers.

Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch reviews ite
Brave new world...
10/18/2010 - 18:13
Antiquorum has already launched an online auction site!  As someone without authorized dealers within reach, this step makes perfect sense.  But even more, the online purchasing experience has improved tremendously and IMHO is now more transparent and secure than many in-person transactions.   Now I'm speaking about the secondary market for pre-owned watches.  I'm sure that original sales of high luxury, and high profit, pieces is a very different game.  This may present their biggest challenge, because there is a huge change of thinking involved with successful online merchandising and it remains to be seen if the manufacturers will "get it".  For example, the online community is highly democratic, as demonstrated by our wonderful THL site, and therefore highly critical.  Peer review is valued above advertising hyperbole, and missteps can quickly become viral.  It's a brave new world they are entering if, in fact, such a venture proceeds .
Harry Winston, Cartier, Hermes, Bouchron... already
10/18/2010 - 19:53
sell certain items on line and I can't see brands holding on for ever on selling watches online directly. The big issues that may arise are: - selling to someone in a specific location where an AD is not far away, can the AD consider it as unfair competition or the likes of opening a boutique right infront of an AD's store? - what laws apply in buying a watch online? Consummer laws of certain countries give the buyer a certain period to return an item bought on line which means a person can buy a watch, wear it and return it after a week. How do you deal with such matters?
a new generation of buyers only buy online so it would seem logical to
10/18/2010 - 19:58
open to them
There's an if....
10/18/2010 - 20:40
when you are about to spend a substantial amount of money on something that you have only seen in a photo.  As opposed to just some five years ago, now you can enjoy beautiful photos of practically all the newly appearing watches, as well as second hand pieces at auction houses.  However, personally when I see that the size of the watch that I really like from the photo is 44, 46 or even more mm, I simply "deflate" as I still cannot get used to the xxl sizes, nor do I find then confortable on my wrist. The second issue is that the watch (as nicely explained by others here) has to "speak to me" in order to make the jump, and that, IMHO, can only be possible after trying it on my wrist.  
I don't think it will replace brick and mortar on the other hand
10/19/2010 - 18:57
imagine having the possibility to find online the retailer which has the watch you are searching for!
I wonder if VC would consider selling vintage pieces online?
10/21/2010 - 16:21
They have some vintage watches for sale at their Maisons worldwide and I don't think the ADs would be too upset or protective about the vintage market in their regions.  A vintage VC from VC would give a buyer assurance as to provenance and condition of the watch, for which a premium over antique dealers and auctions would be well deserved and justified. BR, Dan
it would be a smart and easy way to start (nt)
10/21/2010 - 16:25
Brilliant Idea Dan
10/22/2010 - 22:03
Yes, that would be a great way to start .  Probably would be high-end pieces to recover the restoration costs, but it would do the most good if they could be significant players in the secondary market so that both the quality of restoration and the added Certificate of Authenticity became the expected standard.  Then we should see an overall benefit to the vintage market for Vacheron Constantin, which will of course support the decision to purchase a new piece if its collectability were supported.