American Marketer


Bally, Chanel highest-rated luxury branded sites: Luxury Institute

July 18, 2011

Bally's Web site


Luxury brands Bally, Chanel and Tory Burch topped the charts for the highest overall composite Web site scores for their easy-to-navigate, beautiful and helpful sites, according to a new study from the Luxury Institute.

Shoppers earning more than $150,000 per year rated 24 luxury design houses’ Web sites and rated them based on different features. The main problems for luxury brands' sites are navigability and ease of use.

“Having a seamless multichannel customer experience is the most important thing as customers want to be able to easily find information and better understand the details and features of products instead of having to go to a store,” said Meera Raja, marketing manager at the New York-based Luxury Institute.

“Making sure the Web site is easy to navigate and visually appealing of course will enhance their overall experience,” she said.

Site seeing

Twenty-four brands were studied: Balenciaga, Bally, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Michael Kors, Coach, Prada, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Bahama, Ferragamo, Tory Burch, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.

Affluent consumers rated the Web sites based on visual appeal, navigability, product selection, use of images and text in helping them understand product features, security of personal data, ease of purchasing and access to customer service.

Footwear, apparel and accessories brand Bally earned the overall highest score and was followed closely by Chanel and Tory Burch.


The Bally Web site

Bally's site is equipped with tons of images and videos right on its homepage. The newest and most wanted products are easy to access from the time users get onto the site.

The site also outlines the return policy, shipping and customer care to make the experience as easy as possible.


Chanel's Web site

The Chanel site is mostly black-and-white except for its products, lending a sense of luxury and elegance. It evokes nostalgia with store fronts and rooms dating back to when the company began.

Chanel recently updated its watch and fine jewelry sites for mobile, putting it at the front of the pack of iconic luxury brands that are trying to stay relevant and modern while not leaving their heritage behind (see story).


Tory Burch's site

The Tory Burch site is happy, colorful and oozes customer engagement. Founder and creative designer Ms. Burch uses the site as a platform to share personal thoughts and answer questions on her blog.

All products are easy to find, with large images and zoom capability.

However, just because a Web site has high user visits does not mean that individuals are actually purchasing on them.

“Although 64 percent of wealthy consumers are visiting fashion designer Web sites to browse, shop or check out the latest designs, only 37 percent actually report making purchases on these sites,” Ms. Raja said.

“Brands must continue to establish multichannel marketing initiatives and give customers a reason to shop with them online,” she said.

For example, Ralph Lauren received the most site visits but was not one of the top sites in terms of purchasing.

“Only 8 percent of wealthy consumers report visiting fashion designer Web sites to obtain customer service,” Ms. Raja said.

“Having easy access to a customer service representative online, perhaps even a personal representative assigned to specific clients, is a huge opportunity for luxury brands to further engage the customer,” she said.

Too flashy

Luxury brands are not always the most advanced in digital endeavors. A prominent problem with luxury branded sites is usability and navigation (see story).

Therefore, luxury marketers need to realize that while aesthetics are important to a branded site, the ability to drive and maintain high visits depends on what customers are doing when they are on the site.


Yves Saint Laurent's ecommerce site

A great Web site is important to affluent consumers because the digital channel is time-sensitive and convenient -- two major luxuries that are not always easy to come by for these types of consumers.

“Luxury fashion designer brands need to develop unique marketing strategies for their online presence in order to exceed customer expectations,” Ms. Raja said.

“Customer satisfaction with interacting with luxury fashion designer Web sites had the lowest index scores in the survey," she said. "Given the amount of time spent on the Web by wealthy consumers today, luxury brands must push the boundaries to provide extraordinary customer experiences online.”

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York