Merchant Innovation

Are Luxury Goods Coming To WhatsApp?

It looks like the affluent — or at least, those who wish to shop like the affluent — will soon have a mechanism to buy their luxury items of choice on WhatsApp, care of Yoox Net-a-Porter.

Prada and Versace will be among the brands joining Yoox Net-a-Porter’s digital commerce upgrade.  The service already offers personal shoppers available on demand via text message. Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti said in an interview in London recently that these upgrades are only the beginning of the firm’s upping of its competitive game.

Chat is widely considered the next great digital battlefield for commerce, spurred on by the powerful example of Chinese success in the arena. There are currently 700 million WeChat users — many of whom have their bank accounts linked to the service and routinely transact from it for every imaginable purpose. Bills, shopping, cab rides — all tap and go accessible with WeChat. While 92 percent of global luxury brands use WeChat for marketing, only a small proportion of them sell directly through the app.

“We’ve made some of our biggest sales to EIPs (“Extremely Important People”) by chatting with them through WhatsApp,” Noted Yoox Net-a-Porter CEO Federico Marchetti said. He declined to give details on how payment via WhatsApp would work.

Net-a-Porter’s mobile customers place more than double the orders of desktop users, making the mobile WhatsApp opportunity potentially highly lucrative, particularly since those mobile purchases are also twice as valuable.

Forrester forecasts that the online luxury market will more than double to $39 billion by 2021 — but YNAP, Farfetch and others are aiming for a growing slice of that business.

The company is still testing its technology and has no scheduled release date.

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