Yesterday, emarketer asked how can luxury retailers create a better online shopping experience? While the question focuses on how the current state of e-commerce can be taken to the next level to better meet the wants and needs of affluents, I wonder if affluents will increasingly turn to the internet to south their indulgence in luxury goods?

2/3 of e-commerce growth in Q2 of 2010 is credited to affluents. Despite this promising figure, luxury retailers remain inactive and fail to take advantage of this new breed of online shoppers. Luxury brands are defined by their inaccessibility and exclusiveness which feed our need to look wealthy. While internet usage continues to surge across all demographics, buying luxury goods online can never mimic the in-store experience that’s offered to the affluents. three reasons exist that point to this argument.

1) When shopping in an Hermes store or purchasing a IWC watch from a high-end jeweler, the mere action of walking out with the branded shopping bag creates a sense of pride and self-accomplishment that cannot be replicated online despite all the social sharing tools that exist.

2) In general, women go shopping in pairs. They not only value their friend’s opinion when purchasing a designer garment but also engage in experiences that transcend that taking place in stores. These outings are occasions during which shoppers have the opportunity to catch up with each others’ lives this, usually over lunch, drinks, or the occasional pampering at the local spa. While time has become a commodity for most of us, the occasional getaway with friends on a shopping trip is still of essence and very much valued. Thus, making the complete disappearance of in-store purchasing unlikely.

3)Finally, the white-glove treatment that is customary to luxury brands can never quite render the same way online. True luxury brands not only offer their customers with a certain level of intimacy that exists online but they usually throw in the occasional champagne glass along with other delicacies.

So while the recession has caused affluents to increase their research for deals, value, and quality and has prompt a surge in online shopping, the return to a more stable economic climate will likely see affluents getting together and invading the Fifth avenues of the world and take part in that rich experience that many covet but only few enjoy.

What do you think? Do you see sharp declines in the level of in-store purchases of luxury goods happening soon? Have your say in the comment box below.


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