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Who is winning the luxury e-commerce race?

October, 1 2019

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Iva Lila
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Iva Lila
A $3,000 handbag may not be something most people will want to click-and-collect, but luxury shoppers are increasingly opting to buy online, pushing many of the highest regarded luxury brands to play catch up in the e-commerce revolution.

 

With more high-end shopping migrating to mobile apps, the battle for supremacy in the luxury e-tailer space is heating up. The success of ventures such as Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP), Farfetch and Mytheresa are proof that consumers are willing to purchase premium products via mobile – and not necessarily at discounted prices.

As e-commerce becomes a greater part of high-fashion, the leading luxury conglomerates have been working to lead in that space either through development or acquisition. Last year, Richemont, which controls brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, completed a takeover of Yoox Net-A-Porter for €2.8 billion. In 2017, LVMH launched its own multi-brand website 24S.com to to take control of its e-commerce operations. The fashion houses’ race to embrace digital marks a remarkable turn for an industry that had long been resistant to selling online due to fears that the internet’s mass access would damage luxury brands’ exclusivity. 

Another sign of the growing allure of luxury e-commerce was the highly successful IPO of UK-based Farfetch, which raised $885 million when it went public last September on the New York Stock Exchange – well above the top range of the company’s expectations.

In this post, we outline the top 5 multi-brand portals that have established themselves as the go-to platforms for luxury brands.

1. Farfetch

Farfetch, a tech start-up from East London, is the world’s largest mobile app marketplace for luxury goods with over 1.2m monthly active users (MAU). 

When it was founded 11 years ago, Farfetch was a trailblazer in the area of building e-commerce marketplaces specifically catering to high-end fashion and other luxury goods industries. Loaded with beautifully captured images and presented in a sleek and simple layout, the app enables users to purchase high-end items in a few quick taps — meaning that in the wrong hands, this app could incur serious harm to the bank balance.

Although Farfetch has hooked luxury shoppers from all around the world, its most avid users are based in Russia, China, the US and Saudi Arabia.

 

2. Yoox Net-A-Porter

The world’s best known online luxury shopping destination is without a doubt Yoox Net-A-Porter. With more than 50% of YNAP customer purchases now made on mobile, the group continues to invest heavily in its apps, where users can browse the latest arrivals in clothing, bags, shoes and accessories from labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. 

Counting both Apple App Store and Google Play stats, the Net-A-Porter app is used by 642k monthly active users worldwide and has an especially engaged customer base in regions such as Italy, Russia, the US and China. 

 

3. MR PORTER

In the 8 years since it was founded, the brother site of Yoox Net-A-Porter has firmly established its reputation as the mecca for men’s fashion. The company’s iOS and Android apps provide users with on-the-go shopping from the world’s most iconic menswear brands including Off-White, Ermenegildo Zegna, Moncler, Acne Studios and many more. 

With 309k monthly active users, MR PORTER caters to a sizeable and sophisticated pool of luxury shoppers which has spiked 94% from Q3 2018. This growth in monthly active users is driven by an increased penchant for luxury goods in markets including the US, Australia and the UK. This year, MR PORTER has also expanded its influence in the Middle East and Asia, with these regions accounting for 40% of MR PORTER’s total app installations for 2019. 


4. Mytheresa

Luxury retailer Mytheresa has a rich history stretching back over 30 years as the ultimate brick and mortar fashion destination in Munich. However, since launching online in 2006, the company has grown to become one of the most innovative luxury e-commerce companies in the world. Mytheresa’s USP is its tightly edited inventory – a selection of only about 250 brands, while YNAP and Farfetch host about 800 and 2,000 labels respectively on their platforms.

Compared to the same period last year (September 2018), Mytheresa’s iOS and Android apps have seen a 67% increase in monthly active users. Over the past year, the luxury retailer’s apps have gained significant traction in China and Saudi Arabia, with these regions accounting for 20% of Mytheresa’s 171k monthly active users.

Michael Kliger, Mytheresa’s President and Chief Executive, recently stated that more than 50% of Mytheresa’s sales come from mobile and that between 70% – 80% of page views are made on a mobile device. 

 

5. MatchesFashion.com

MatchesFashion.com, which is based in the UK but counts the United States as its largest market, is a formidable e-commerce force with a particular emphasis on introducing its customers to a myriad of niche labels. 

The company started as a physical store in London in 1987 and still runs four brick and mortar shops in the UK capital. However, over the past 10 years it changed gears to focus primarily on e-commerce. It was this shift to digital that gave MatchesFashion its global standing (it currently ships to over 176 countries) and put it in competition with already established luxury e-tailers like Net-a-Porter and Farfetch.

As of September 2019, the app counts 103K monthly active users worldwide and has an especially large following in East Asia. This year, the company’s iOS and Android apps have been installed on approximately 600k smartphones with South Korea accounting for 16% of total downloads, China for 12% and Australia 10%. 

 

Outlook

With their digital savvy and understanding of the luxury market, the world’s largest fashion e-commerce players are all locked in a race to become Number 1. Their embrace of technologies such as 3D product visualisation, augmented reality and virtual reality all play a crucial role in enabling their consumers to make more confident purchases for big-ticket items.

Brick and mortar will always remain vital to the luxury customer. According to Bain, still only around 10% of luxury goods are sold online today – though the forecast is that it will eventually reach about a third. More brands moving online would only fuel this growth and apps such as Farfetch, MatchesFashion.com and YNAP have proven that they can indeed deliver a terrific shopping experience and continue to set an extremely high bar for what global luxury shopping should look like.

 

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