In the hope of reviving sale which has been significantly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new all-digital Watches & Wonders event was launched recently by luxury Swiss watch makers who are usually not known to be big fans of online retailing. The watch makers will show off their latest products to online customers now.
Even though physical stores are still the most reliable sale channel for makers of high end watches, the success achieved by online platforms for pre-owned watches such as WatchBox or Richemont’s Watchfinder have also strongly suggested that it is possible to increase sale of luxury watches through the online medium.
Last year, Swiss watch sales was hit because of pandemic induced factory and store closures which has prompted many luxury watch makers to focus on boosting their often tiny online business and work out strategies for reaching out to customers online.
The customers of luxury brand Hermes’ had already signed up and were used to shopping on hermes.com which helped the brand to outperform the industry last year, said Guillaume de Seynes, executive vice president of the luxury goods group Hermes.
Hermes was a much early entrant into the online selling sphere with the brand having launched its transactional website in the United States almost 20 years ago and had thus embraced e-commerce way ahead of the pure-play watch makers. . The brand is known for its leather goods, silk scarves and perfumes.
For the current year, a strong recovery in the sale of watches under its brand is expected by De Seynes and expects that the current trend – which saw the group increase sale by 28 per cent in the last quarter of 2020, to continue this year too.
Sale through online channels accounted for only about 2 per cent of the total sale of the Swiss watch industry in terms of volume, estimated Rene Weber, analyst at Vontobel, but added that the share of online sale varied between brands. However there are other analysts who put the share of online sale at between 7 per cent and 9 per cent of the total sale of Swiss watch luxury makers.
The traditional bricks and mortar stores still remain the more preferred mode of sale for most of the Swiss luxury watch brands such as Patek Philippe and Rolex which costs the brands tens of thousands of dollars to maintain.
The official online platform of Watches & Wonders’ has been described by itself as “the biggest watch event ever to take place online” and claims that it will allow the media and the retailers to gain access to presentations that were held by the 38 participating brands.
“It would be good if consumers could also participate via the Watches & Wonders platform,” Oris Co-Chief Executive Rolf Studer said.
During the pandemic, other ways to connect more closely with its clients was found by Oris last year, he said and cited the campaign that was related the stories of local heroes on Instagram a watch launch directly to its online community via Zoom.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)