It’s an e-thing

As you all know our website is finally up and running. It’s a beautiful combination of rigorous teamwork, effort and banging our heads against our poor showroom walls on multiple occasions.

We thought that creating a website map was a long process, but building it seemed to take longer than forever. Out of all the pages, the most complex was by far the online shop. So I started to wonder: how much success would a retail business get WITHOUT an e-shop these days? And how seriously can an online clothing company be taken as opposed to a physical boutique?

It’s obvious that, as the world gets more tech-savvy, so do its shoppers. In fact, online commerce has become just as important as physical shops for most retail businesses. If a business is new and has been created in the last 5 years, chances are it’s online presence is a lot stronger than it’s presence in a mall or on a commercial shopping street. And if the budget is low- chances are, the online presence is the only one a company will have.

Some companies have made a fortune through their Facebook page and interactive websites, complete with a state of the art online shop and top online customer service. Do they really need a physical store? Not necessarily, because having established good customer relations online they can simply rely on word of mouth to grow and thrive as an  e-business. There are companies, though, who are on a constant hunt for the perfect retail space. After all, establishing an identity and good credentials is much easier in a physical environment rather than virtually. But in the end, everyone understands the great thing about the Internet is that it can be accessed from anywhere, so there are never geographical limitations for a client. What any e-company must remember, however, is that an online business must think and grow like one and must therefore apply different strategies to succeed to those that would be used by its competitors on Regent Street or Bond Street.

Now let’s flip the coin. Let’s look at the businesses that grow and thrive and yet refuse to sell online.They all have a common point: History and the images of Exclusivity. Not every company can compare itself with Chanel- a brand that is still at the top and yet has never sold online. As we all know, the company has more than enough money to make a fabulous, stylish and functional e-shop, available to its clients worldwide. However, the image of luxury, exclusivity and quality would not be as strong as the brand wishes to portray it. According to Chanel, there is beauty in their most loyal customers flying from country to country in search of that one of a kind handbag they saw on the runway last Spring. Wouldn’t an online shop destroy that purpose and make the most exclusive goods available to anyone?

So in reply to the question of ‘Can a brand succeed without an online shop’, my answer is yes. Yes, but only as long as the client relations and the brand’s history have been built up over many years- earning them trust, respect and a guaranteed position on the fashion pyramid, no matter how they choose to represent themselves on the World Wide Web.