Tak­ing Lux­ury On­line

Forbes Middle East - - COVER STORY -

The Mid­dle East’s re­tail land­scape has been al­ways dot­ted with glitzy malls, boast­ing of lux­ury brands. Con­sumers too flock to these houses of lux­ury brands, keen to feel and ex­pe­ri­ence the brands be­fore they buy in. But this mix is chang­ing grad­u­ally. While the brands are not mov­ing away from their phys­i­cal out­lets, these brands are deal­ing with an en­tirely new crowd of mo­bile-savvy mil­len­ni­als. “We are in the mid­dle of a ma­jor re­tail trans­for­ma­tion, driven by dig­i­tal-savvy con­sumers who spend more time on­line and less time of­fline,” says Adel Bel­caid, Part­ner at A.T. Kear­ney. “This is not to say that glitzy malls are los­ing their rel­e­vance, but their role in the om­nichan­nel shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence has to evolve and they have to cre­ate a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with the emerg­ing dig­i­tal chan­nels.” This trans­for­ma­tion is partly why global lux­ury e-tail­ers like Net-a-Porter and Far­fetch are in­creas­ingly suc­cess­ful. Con­sumers do not want to be lim­ited by bound­aries any­more and would im­me­di­ately look on­line for a prod­uct that is not avail­able in their re­gion. This has prompted lux­ury brands to main­tain an on­line pres­ence as well. But will of­fer­ing lux­ury prod­ucts on­line neg­a­tively im­pact ex­clu­siv­ity? Bel­caid does not think so. “On the con­trary, it of­fers new ways to en­gage with the cus­tomer base, fur­ther un­der­stand their pref­er­ences and buy­ing pat­terns, and ul­ti­mately of­fer a tai­lored, in­no­va­tive shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, lever­ag­ing both on­line and of­fline chan­nels, that would fit so very well with any lux­ury brand prom­ise.”

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