Tiffany & Co is a bit of a success story when it comes to remaining luxury but aspirational to the masses (through it’s silver, more affordable lines). Similar to other luxury retailers the brand has been late to the ecommerce market and even now only services 13 markets.
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According to their latest annual report ecommerce accounted for 6% of total sales (contrasting to an average of 10% in retail) – showing a slow take-up by customers and an underinvestment by the brand in this area.
Just to give you an idea of the reticence to go online in this sector, Chanel, who for a long time refused to sell online has only last year announced plans to finally sell online…that’s about about 20 years after Amazon (for some context).
The reason these businesses aren’t heading online at any pace is really the feeling that it will democratise the brand too much. They work on a mantra of exclusivity and the internet challenges this very notion.
So back to the story, Tiffany & Co has announced that it take a different tact with online and undertake a limited partnership with Net-a-porter.  The brand will begin selling on the site as of the 27th of April. This comes at a time, when Tiffany may need this channel more than ever.
The jeweller reported net sales declines at -3% (US$4.1B). They put this down to the US dollar, low oil prices and weakening emerging economies (something effecting luxury retail at the moment).
Tiffany’s SVP of international sales, Philippe Galtie, said of the partnership ‘Brand collaborations with innovative businesses like Net-a-Porter help ensure that Tiffany’s timeless designs reach a new generation of customers, wherever they are’.
This tie up should do just that – giving Tiffany the ability to sell online to 170 different countries.
It’s an unexpected partnership, but we think it starts to show some thought leadership from the luxury sector in e-commerce. The truth is that if they want to reach the next generation of customers they’re going to have to think beyond the traditional luxe store-based retail experience.