Retail

How Luxury Timepieces Can Become A Subscription Business

Eleven James

Luxury timepieces — and other collectibles — are often purchased as keepsakes. But what are consumers to do if they want to try them on for size and style before making a commitment?

Eleven James seeks to solve that problem by allowing its members to essentially borrow a luxury timepiece for three months at a time, or even longer.

The company maintains a collection of a few thousand timepieces from more than 30 brands, and members can experiment with different styles without having to make a long-term commitment to a particular watch. As a result, consumers aren’t stuck with watches they no longer want to own.

CEO of Eleven James, Olivier Reza, told PYMNTS in an interview, “We get them to enjoy as many watches as they want, when they want.”

In Reza’s eyes, the service runs on the same concept as cars. Some people lease cars, for example, so they’re not stuck with one vehicle for many years.

 

The Perfect Fit

Eleven James offers two main options for its services: The company can choose a watch for the consumer, or the consumer can make the choice. The latter subscription is “for the consumer that knows watches and likes to choose,” Reza said.

In addition to providing watches to its members, Eleven James also consigns watches. This service allows watch owners to turn their property into a stream of cash flow.

“You’ve got a lot of collectors who have a lot of watches and they don’t use all of them,” Reza said.

For this reason, Eleven James offers a program which will allow watch owners to submit pictures of their timepieces online. After evaluating a watch, Eleven James may pay the owners to make the watch available to its members.

Besides providing watch owners with income, the consignment program also allows them to introduce their watches to potential buyers.

 

The Market and Millennials

Eleven James serves a couple of markets, such as consumers who’re ready to buy a watch but want to see how it looks and feels first. So, they have an opportunity to try a watch before buying it.

The company also seeks to serve consumers who have a lot of watches. These consumers may want to experience watches at higher price points than they would otherwise consider. However, they may want to try watches in a lower price level than their sweet spot.

Eleven James may also appeal to millennials, who don’t have that ownership mentality. After all, they’re the first generation to come of age during the internet era, and most millennials were also among the very first social media users.

Millennials need less material possessions, require more freedom to travel, want to “experience” new things and desire to live in bustling urban centers near trendy dining and entertainment options. This has significantly reshaped the world of retail and will continue to do so.

“You will certainly find short-term worry about not enough people buying enough stuff, but that worry has always existed,” according to blogger Joshua Becker, who authors the blog Becoming Minimalist, which is heavily geared toward millennials. “But beyond the short-term unease, there is a long-term anxiety clouding the retail market. This long-term worry is far more significant and can be summarized in one sentence: Millennials don’t want to buy stuff.”

Millennials currently make up about a third of the U.S. population and the majority of the workforce, according to Forbes. Their skill at using technology to find the best bargains, and social media to influence their purchasing habits, will be factors that retailers will have to contend with for years to come, as Gen X and baby boomers continue to age and their purchasing power diminishes.

 

The Road Ahead

In the future, Eleven James plans to branch out into more markets besides luxury timepieces. The company hopes to expand into jewelry and art in the future.

And, while Reza said Eleven James’ watch business is on a good trajectory, he’s hoping to grow the watch business before expanding into new product lines. He wants to take on one category at a time.

“We just have to go at them one after another, so we execute on them well,” he said.

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