The transformation to the digital world we know today took the watch industry a very long time compared to practically any other consumer sector. Understandably so considering the industry is steeped in history that is mostly analog and is still driven by analog technology today.
Much progress has been made in recent years but nevertheless one of the most glaring inefficiencies that still exists is related to selling watches online – particularly at the mid to high-end price points.
That’s all changing now thanks to a number of factors such as a recent downturn in the watch business and an upturn in luxury sales online. Watch companies and retailers have finally been forced to recognize the fact that ecommerce is a viable sales solution and adapt accordingly.
Let’s face it, all retail has been changed forever, largely driven by innovative companies such as Amazon and Apple. Just look at what’s happening in malls across America in this article. It’s sad in a way but it’s also part of evolution.
Being a huge proponent of digital publishing and e-commerce, since the very early days, I’m very optimistic that there’s finally a consensus within the industry that ecommerce is good for business.
According to a recent article in the FHH Journal, 80% of sales are influenced by online and by 2025 20% of all luxury sales will be online.
Most customers, myself included, want to see a product in-store (or online) and then buy online (or in-store). Giving consumers this freedom is the basis of omnichannel marketing, which has been around for a long time already. Just not in the watch industry.
Sure TAG Heuer, Bell & Ross, Cartier, and others have been selling wristwatches online for years now, but they are the exception, not the norm.
While there are of course some doubts, as evidenced in this article, selling luxury goods online is inevitable.
Whether the internet will become the savior of watch retail is something only time will tell, but adding even a small amount to the bottom line is more critical now than ever. Especially considering that luxury sales online, in general, are currently showing strong growth.
Marketing to consumers is all about multiple touchpoints, which means any point of contact between a buyer and a seller. And one could argue it has always been that way. Just now, those touchpoints are increasingly digital (websites, apps, and social media) and decreasingly analog (print magazines, newspapers, and physical stores).
As this aforementioned analog-to-digital metamorphosis continues, the sales channels that have disrupted virtually every other consumer product category are finally going to change the watch industry as companies rush to capitalize.
Read about some companies already making digital moves to capture a share of the business here and here.