Is Luxury eCommerce Scalable in India?

Traditionally, luxury products were defined by their aspirational value and price tag. Today, in the age of 3D printed products and easy online accessibility, luxury is defined by exclusivity of distribution and quality of craftsmanship. The modern consumer wants designs that are of the best quality and unique to her – to her own idiosyncratic style and preferences.

Growth in the Luxury Market

India has one the largest ‘young’ populations in the world. One that is digitally connected, always on, and looking for discerning experiences. This segment of population will drive the growth of the online luxury market.

In the last available reports from 2012, India had the fastest growing luxury market, above China, Japan, above other South East Asian neighbours. Despite a setback in the last couple of years, caused by internal and international factors, India appears to be back on the growth track. Especially for the higher income brackets and consumers who have the disposable income to embellish their lifestyle.

The luxury e-commerce market in India is expected to grow to US$25 billion by 2016, as per the ASSOCHAM report. A compounded growth of 25% annually. And the sectors driving this segment will be apparel, accessories, watches, and high-end electronics.

Catering to the Modern Consumer

Today’s consumers are well travelled, conscious of international brands, and are very comfortable with online shopping, even for high value items such as designer clothes and accessories, cell phones and laptops. Importantly, the consumers today are also willing to spend a much larger share of their income on lifestyle products.

This globally conscious consumer has experienced luxury, often from the best of international brands. These brands have also accustomed the consumer to expect the best service and shopping experience.

She now desires a unique and personalised experience, especially for luxury lifestyle products.

Scalable eCommerce

Historically, the behemoths of luxury brands have built their reputation on controlling every aspect of the business – design, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. Thus managing to control the entire experience very tightly.

The Internet distrupted all this. Modern technologies and the speed of digital communication has forced the traditional luxury brands to change. These brands have to now connect and be relatable, while at the same time maintaining their aspirational value. The upheaval of traditional businesses wreaked by the advent of etailers and Internet has levelled the playing field. New brands now can get started faster. But more than that, the customer is now in-charge.

Sites such as Amazon have made even the most exclusive of brands ubiquitous, and just a click away. For luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel, partnerships with high-street brands such as H&M has been a way to go mass market. It allows them to show reach while still maintaining the mystique of a luxury house.

Customisation is how brands are driving scale. By adding customisation, luxury brands are able to offer a combination of a unique experience and reach. Modern commerce offers four possible types of customisations – collaborative when designer and customer work together to design the product; adaptive when the retailer makes minor modifications to match the product to the users requirement, these are minor tweaks and edits to get the perfect fit; transparent customisation offers unique goods to each buyer; and cosmetic when there is only a change in how and where the product is sold.

Scale in luxury comes from the first two – collborative and adaptive customisation. Brands put standard and golabbly valued products on offer, which can be tweaked and customised for the consumer either by the manufacturer themselves or in collboration with a modern technology-partner who has the tools to offer these services fast and in all corners of the world.

By combining new technologies and traditional craftsmenship, businesses are able to create an experience that is unique and of the highest quality. And deliver these to consumers across the world. Thus, offering scalable luxury.

Disclaimer: This is a guest post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamWire and the editor(s).

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