Many international luxury brands still lag behind in China’s e-commerce
Exane BNP Paribas recent study, “China Reality Check: Luxury and the Online Boom,” examined ten of China’s top multi-brand e-commerce websites and compared international luxury brands by the number of these sites on which they can be found.
Among soft luxury companies, Burberry leads the pack with items for sale on 10 multi-brand e-tailers in China, including Secoo, Yintai, and JD.com. Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Tod’s rounded out the top five with products for sale on all ten websites. One important Italian brand with no multi-brand e-commerce presence is Brunello Cucinelli.
Hard luxury companies—watch makers, jewelers, and pen makers—have not embraced e-commerce in China as enthusiastically as the soft luxury brands have. Tied with a presence on seven multi-brand e-commerce websites each are Cartier, Longines, Montblanc, and Omega.
When compared to the number of soft luxury companies selling online, hard luxury companies fall short. One reason for this may be the difficulty in proving authenticity online. With Taobao in the press for its large number of counterfeits, as well as Exane BNP Paribas’ findings on counterfeit goods on Tmall, buying high-priced jewelry made from precious metals and diamonds with questionable authenticity may be too much of a risk for Chinese consumers.
Furthermore, these hard luxury companies are most likely more selective when choosing an e-commerce site to sell through due to the necessity of selling on a site with a good track record of credibility. A large majority of Chinese consumers still prefer the traditional retail experience when it comes to jewellery or watches.