"Luxury is a couple of steps behind, as usual," luxury marketing consultant Tony King told eMarketer.
He said that consumers would typically use several devices while researching a purchase. "People will check something seven or eight times online before they actually buy – that's a big thing with luxury, so the experience has to be consistent across devices."
Luxury marketers were also operating in a different environment to the mainstream. "Luxury consumers respond to access rather than promotion," explained King. "They want to know they have something other people can't get yet, so that means exclusive products."
He suggested that a good salesperson would be able to phone up a customer to tell them that an item they would like was becoming available. "That's what ecommerce is lacking, and that has to improve," he stated.
Most websites already had all the necessary data, he argued, but were failing to use it in the best possible way. "Websites should be digital tools that allow real people to get early information to each other," he said. "It's a way of setting up that exclusive club."
King also noted that there was a degree of snobbery and elitism in the luxury business that held brands back. "I think a lot of brands want consumers to come to them, and they don't want to be seen as trying too hard," he said.
As an example of how luxury brands were falling down digitally he cited Alexander McQueen, "a theatrical, dramatic, incredible brand". While these aspects of the brand were evident in store, they were completely lacking on the website.
"If I put my hand over the logo, the website could be almost any other brand, and that's disappointing," he said, before adding that "luxury is a place where the rules can be broken".
Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff