The following picture might be a little harsh…

…but I’ve spoken to a number of eBusiness executives in luxury retail companies over the last 12 months or so, and by and large they share a similar frustration. For the most part, their senior management remain resolutely defiant in the face of the opportunity that digital brings.

Which is arrogantly short-sighted, when you consider that luxury shoppers are:

  • Young. Shoppers who buy luxury products online in the US are almost ten years younger on average than regular online shoppers. Globally, online luxury shoppers are more likely to be tech-savvy thirty-somethings rather than brandy-swilling boardroom bumblers.
  • Avid social media users. Even in Europe, where in general consumers are less socially engaged than their US or Chinese counterparts, online luxury shoppers are more social on the web. They are more likely to engage in every activity represented on Forrester’s Social Technographics® Ladder than a mainstream web shopper. Sites like Rich Kids of Instagram are tapping into this trend with gratuitous, graphic gusto.
  • Tech savvy. Not only are US luxury shoppers significantly more likely to be tablet users than mainstream web users, but this also translates into higher expectations around retailers’ ability to provide a tablet-optimized experience – be that via the web or a specific tablet app.

Brands like Net-a-Porter and Burberry are riding the digital wave. While some luxury retailers posted less than positive pre-Christmas results, which some say points to a slowdown in the appetite of Chinese consumers for luxury products, this particular pair of British bulldogs go from strength to strength with digital at the heart of their growth strategies. Other luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany can clearly see the prize at the end of the digital road but are still at the very beginnings of their multitouchpoint, agile commerce journey.

Luxury retailers can’t afford to ignore digital anymore. They can’t treat it as “something someone in the office in the basement does because it’s not really what our customers want.” Luxury shoppers are technology adopters and have high expectations that aren’t being met by many retailers. In A Luxury Retailer’s Guide to Agile Commerce, we take a deeper look at some of the consumer behaviours that are driving this urgent need to transform, along with some of the strategies adopted by the digital leaders in the luxury space.

Hopefully, this will give eBusiness executives in luxury organizations another string to their bows as they try to convince their C-suite that the Internet thing isn’t just going to go away.