Chanel Stays Offline

Louis does it. Gucci does it.  Even Hermes sometimes does it.  But Chanel won’t.  For now.  Chanel bags, ready-to-wear and most accessories are and will only be sold in stores not online.

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Chanel via @pursebop #pursebopschanelcollection

As you may have noticed, you can satisfy your bag urges comfortably at home from Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Valentino and Prada.  They all have e-shopping as well as online presence in independent and department store websites. The Hermes website allows purchases of many of its bags, excluding the elusive Birkin, Kelly and Constance, as well as small leather goods, shoes and scarves, among other things.

Chanel, however, remains almost entirely dependent upon an in-store experience. Two and a half years ago, PurseBop wrote about Chanel’s big plans for e-commerce beginning in 2016.  Despite its development of a significant online presence and extensive digital marketing, Chanel – home of $10,000 tweed suits and $6000 handbags – not only hasn’t done it but, according to a recent interview, Chanel has no plans to sell its high end merchandise online.  Right now, from Chanel’s website you can only purchase beauty products and sunglasses.  You can admire bags, accessories and ready to wear, as well as view fashion shows and videos, but purchasing is strictly bricks and mortar. Similarly, department stores that carry Chanel limit the web sales to beauty, watches and jewelry, although recently some like Bergdorf Goodman have added pictures of ready-to-wear, bags and accessories available in stores.

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Chanel, Paris.

At a time when internet sales are booming, Chanel’s decision may strike some as odd or counter-productive. According to the Reuter’s article, in 2016 Chanel’s sales fell nine percent and profit dropped nearly 35%.  It remains to be seen whether Chanel’s financials will see the same bounce as its competitors in 2017.

Chanel’s President of Fashion Bruno Pavlovsky justifies the decision this way:  Customers want to try on the clothes. He also adds that clients in China, one of Chanel’s fastest growing markets, urge against digital sales saying it will adversely affect exclusivity.

Chanel, however, may consider “e-services” – allowing consumers to reserve items online or make appointments.

Do you want Chanel bags sold online?  Will that make you buy more or less?  Will the sales associate relationship become less important?  Do you care?