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The Marriage of Technology and Luxury

Are you talking about e-commerce? Maybe m-commerce is what you should start looking at…

With the advent of m-commerce (mobile commerce), it’s shopping with an ease of your fingertips, literally. Kevin Duffey, a technology guru, originally coined the phrase mobile commerce in 1997 at the launch of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum. To give a simplified definition, Mobile Commerce means “a retail outlet in your customer’s pocket.”

Luxury M-Commerce photo examples

Luxury in its very definition is, to be able to do things at your own pace, and with the advancement in technology, it is now easier for a luxury consumer to weigh all his or her options and make an informed decision on the move.

In 2013, mobile applications were used by luxury brands as learning tools with elements of entertainment that both increased consumer knowledge and awareness of products and services. As consumer trends shift towards mobile shopping, it gets more competitive and lucrative for luxury brands to vie for the shopping pie.

Hard facts
If you need evidence for the trend, here it goes. Startups across India’s $15 billion ecommerce sector, in a desperate battle for customers, have decisively turned their attention to people who have long commuting hours from office to home and vice versa, and have ditched their laptops and desktops to use their smartphones to go deal-hunting.

E-commerce brands like Flipkart owned Myntra have closed their website and are focused on accumulating sales via their mobile app since May 2015. According to a recently released report by Goldman Sachs, the e-commerce market will account for 2.5% of India’s GDP by 2030, growing 15 times and reaching $300 billion (about INR 19,200 crore) from $20 billion (about INR 1,280 crore) at present. The report also stated that India would have the second-largest digital population in the world with one billion users by 2030, powered by online mobile penetration.

Jabong’s transactions through smartphones have increased to up to 50 per cent from 5 per cent about two years ago. As smartphone sales grow about 51 per cent every three months, the m-commerce market is likely to grow 55 per cent to $19 billion by 2019, from $2 billion now, according to a study by Zinnov.

Mobile commerce is worth US$230 billion, with Asia representing almost half of the market, and has been forecasted to reach US$700 billion in 2017.

Chopard My Happy Sport Watch app for customisation

Luxury Angle
Four Seasons AppAlthough there are not many to count, few big names in luxury have launched their m-commerce platform. In 2013, Swiss jeweler Chopard celebrated the anniversary of its Happy Sport watch through a mobile app that let consumers personalize their timepiece and explore other custom creations. The “My Happy Sport” app gives users complete control of every piece of their watch. By providing the personalization technology, the app aims to inspire consumers to purchase their own custom watch from the watchmaker, but does not include commerce.

Resembling a diary, The Netbook is free for download from the iTunes store and Google Play, allowing users to follow friends and fashion trendsetters, and share their favorite looks and pieces curated by Net-A-Porter. Creating a sense of community among brand enthusiasts will likely benefit the retailer as it continues to grow. The app has a ‘What’s New’ and Designers search from a-z and contains all the various segments that one would find on their website: Clothing, Bags, Shoes, Lingerie, accessories, dresses, tops, knitwear and Beauty. It also has the option to ship to various countries via its app.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has also recently launched a new, multi-functional, content-rich global app. The main m-commerce function that this app allows is the ability to make and manage reservations in multiple locations at once. Apart from that, the app helps in wait-free check-in and check-out, including the opportunity to book luggage pickup and airport transfers. Guests can customise their stay with special requests such as extra pillows, forgot-to-pack toiletries or baby gear. Room service orders, restaurant and spa reservations can be done through the app. Concierge help is available with just a tap.

Louis Vuitton Pass App

The Louis Vuitton Pass app makes it easy to do mobile shopping in America. By scanning any of Louis Vuitton’s advertisement images, you can enter the world of the campaign, be able to discover and easily purchase the featured products.

Not just existing brands, many new, unique apps are making an entry into the luxury world, to cater to luxury consumers, collectors and foodies across the world. They may or may not directly involve commerce, but are certainly paving the way for mobile involvement for luxury brands and services.

Take the example of Chicago-based Parche, that provides a cashless, on-demand valet parking experience on mobile devices. Parche’s mobile app allows consumers to pay and tip for valet parking, and request their cars when they are ready to leave, without leaving the comfort of the restaurant or office, from any smartphone. This app is quite significant (and welcomed) in Chicago, specifically because of its harsh snow season, when many are seen waiting in long lines for their cars in the extreme cold!

Opulent Jewelers App SnapOpulent Jewelers, based in America and selling watches and jewelry from brands such as Bvlgari, Cartier, Chanel, de Grisogono, Hermes, Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Piaget, Pomellato, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels and Versace, has launched AppSnap which can help you sell your authentic luxury jewelry pieces directly to them. Just upload the photo of your jewelry on their app, they’ll provide you with a quote, and if you like the price, you can mail the piece to them to sell online.

Prime Art Capital, a Singapore based art advisory and investment management firm, has launched Prime Collector, an iOS compatible app, that enables art, jewelry, wine and sports memorabilia collectors, to manage their treasure trove. It encourages the collectors to organize their precious compendium. Users, through this app, can track and manage their collectibles by taking photographs and uploading these images along with details such as the value, provenance of the object, its location, restoration history, etc. There are customized database fields that are unique for each collection category. Apart from cataloguing, collectors, via the app’s estate planning feature, can also nominate a trust or a beneficiary for each item in their collection. The application also tracks insurance deadlines, valuation and taxation schedules on an easy to use grid calendar, thus making the life of a collector easier and manageable. After five collectibles, the app starts charging for new entries.

Though not purely conventional m-commerce, these apps are redefining the way consumers function and plan their lives. Shopping is an integral part of lifestyle, and retail brands, therefore, need to shift gears.

Media consumption pattern of consumers have changed completely and will continue to change rapidly in the coming future. We are moving towards the era of wireless communications.

Sukriti Singh Rao is a PR Professional with eight years of experience. From having done PR for mass brands like Red Tape and Saregama to luxury brands like Chopard, Piaget and Moet Hennessy, she has been there, done that and had a blast doing it. Talking and making friends come naturally to her, so the decision to get into PR was a no-brainer. She is currently heading PR for two start ups – Luxury Quotient and NYC.PIE (her own brand).