Chanel hesitant on ecommerce

25 October 2012

PARIS: Chanel, the luxury group, does not regard selling its products online as a short-term priority, based on its desire to drive shoppers into boutiques and maintain brand equity.

The privately-held organisation has not yet moved into ecommerce, a channel attracting rising attention from many manufacturers, the Business of Fashion reported.

"Our clothes are quite sophisticated and one of our strengths is alterations. To be able to wear Chanel clothes, you need to try them on. You need to be in the fitting room," Bruno Pavlovsky, president of global fashion at Chanel. "You need to have a tailor who alters the clothes to fit exactly to your body."

"What we want today – and the way we use digital – is to have more and more people come to the boutique to see the product, to touch the product, but also to try the product. And that, for me, is the most important part.

This decision even applies to items like handbags, which require no similar amendments. Pavlovsky suggested the thinking behind such a policy was to retain an air of exclusivity.

"Because the focus of the brand is about ready-to-wear, it's about fashion. We prefer to sell our bags to people who are coming to the boutique. We want to expose our customers to the brand and so we want them to come to the boutique," he said.

"It's a strategic choice ... we could sell handbags on the internet. But my feeling is that it's not qualitative enough and it's not the kind of service that we want to give to our customers – at the moment."

Looking ahead, however, Pavlovsky stated that the company may reconsider its tactics in this area, having already begun offering fragrances and beauty products via the digital route.

"Perhaps two years, three years, five years from now, we will start to sell [clothing] online," he said. Now, we have some good ideas of how we can do that in the next five years, but it's quite huge.

Currently, the goal is to pursue an increasingly integrated approach between its presence on the internet and physical stores.

"I strongly believe in e-service. It's something we talk about a lot. At the moment we are working on a huge e-service project and next year we will launch a new for fashion which will be an introduction to this e-service; how to link your customers with your boutique," Pavlovsky said.

Chanel has accrued 7m fans on Facebook, as well as 1m followers on Twitter. It also runs a news-based blog, as part of a broader push to stimulate word of mouth on the web.

"Finding the right way of creating this content took us a while, but now we are asking a lot of people that we respect to give us their vision of the brand," Pavlovsky said. "The most important thing is that people can talk about the brand."

Data sourced from Business of Fashion; additional content by Warc staff