Merchant Innovation

"Showrooming" Hits High End Fashion

Show-rooming, or when customers browse in-store but buy online, has already cut a red swath through the heart of retail.  It has pushed some businesses, like consumer-electronics purveyor Circuit City and bookseller Border, out of business, and forced department stores and other retailers to rethink their online sales strategy.

Luxury items like high end retail fashion, however, has so far been spared. That is now changing.

"There was a sense that the luxury sector could not be successful online," says Daniella Vitale, senior executive vice president at Barneys, a U.S. department store that generates about 15% of its sales from its website, reports The Wall Street Journal . "But that proved to be very wrong. Luxury consumers are the most valuable."

Luxury brands, that tend not to support full-service eCommerce sites on the justification that the online experience is a poor analog for the in-store, are now at risk to loosing customers to high end retailers like Neiman Marcus that offer options like in-store pick-up within two hours on online purchase.

Online shopping has also made luxury customers more aware of international price differences in high-end goods.

 

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