Yes, sales are down in China, and even the most exclusive high fashion brands are experiencing some set backs (Hermès, for instance, held a pretty major sale last month to get rid of excess inventory), but L2′s latest China report suggests that things may not be so bad. The NYC-based digital innovation think tank released its annual Luxury China report this week and one of the most striking takeaways is the lack of online capabilities of brands targeting the Chinese market. According to the report, just 21% of fashion brands and 17% of watches and jewelry brands sell online in China, compared to 79% and 40%, respectively, in the U.S. Swarovski, Piaget and Hugo Boss received top scores, as did Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry. Stuart Weitzman, Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent all ranked towards the bottom.
Of the disparity between online presence in the U.S. and China, Emma Li, lead researcher of L2′s report said: “It is surprising that luxury brands are still reluctant to invest digitally in China. Before venturing overseas to make luxury purchases, Chinese consumers demand three things: brand education, pricing transparency, and product availability."
With this in mind, some key tips for brands looking to establish or improve their existing presence in the Chinese market online:
1) If you don't have an e-commerce site, display prices on your site to help Chinese shoppers conduct pre-purchase research;
2) Offer online concierge services to aid in-store shopping;
3) China's WeChat boasts 355 million users, and so, this is a platform worth considering; and
4) Mobile accounted for 43 percent of searches for the brands (at issue in the report), brands remain underinvested in the Chinese mobile market. Considering featuring a mobile-optimized site.