Would You Buy An Exotic Hermès Online?

It is axiomatic that online shopping is here to stay, even in the luxury market.  All the top brands have upped their digital presence. Many of us are disappointed when goods aren’t available with a simple click (we’re looking at you Chanel and Dior). And, let’s face it, as satisfying as it can be to make a bricks and mortar purchase, there’s always a bit of excitement when the delivery person (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL etc) arrives bestowing box after box.

But, it got us thinking… what’s  your online limit? There probably are items or an amount you would never spend over the internet. And it might depend upon the item.  Let’s take Hermès as an example:  we suspect that if Birkins and Kellys were for sale on the Hermès website, they’d sell out in flash despite the five figure tab.  Customers likely would happily forego the magical experience of the private room reveal, complete with gloves, for access and convenience After all, those bags remain difficult to acquire in store.

What about something other than the Hermès Birkin/Kelly/Constance trilogy? As we reported, last fall Hermès launched a new website, seemingly designed to improve the user experience, including on mobile devices. Online window shoppers can scan all of the bags or wallets available, rather than clicking back and forth to check out the merchandise. 

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On its website Hermès sells the Evelyne, Garden Party, Jypsiere, Lindy, Verrou, and virtually every bag but the B/K/C trifecta, which range in price up to about $8000. That’s a pretty big spend online, sight unseen. However, that’s far from the top at Hermès. We wonder whether a five digit exotic wallet would get you to open yours at home.  The Hermès website carries Kelly, Constance and Jige wallets in various fabrications of crocodile and alligator for $13.800, $13,800 and $18,800, respectively.  The medium Egee clutch in croc is a mere $12,900.  Interestingly, just a day ago, there were two exotic Verrous on the site, which are now gone.

Hermès eclipses these exotics with two others.  An alligator double sens is four times as much as the leather version, at a whopping $30,400. The most expensive bag on site (right now, anyway) appears to be a Lindy in Niloticus crocodile for $37,200.

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

High as those prices are, they are nothing compared to the watches and jewelry available through Hermes.com. Two men’s watches with alligator straps list at $39,900 and $42,500, respectively.  But the ladies beat the dudes in time by almost double – take a look at this beauty for $73,200.

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

The jewelry selection hits the $20,000 to $70,000 with several pieces.  One necklace, though, tops $150,000.

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

Photo courtesy: hermes.com

It’s an interesting strategy; the most sought-after bags are reserved to the store experience, but digital includes all of the others and some very high end and/or exotic products. It also contrasts with the brand-stated reason Chanel and Dior decline to sell bags online – to maintain exclusivity.  Yet, Hermès, arguably the most exclusive brand, sells handbags (and fine jewelry) through its website.  We suspect that Hermès is not only confident that these sales will not tarnish its image, but believes it will attract a newer and larger customer base. And the revenues must be pretty good too; surely internet sales of the Evelyne, Garden Party, Jypsiere and Lindy are a real cash cow, with little effort.   We can only imagine the sales revenues (and convenience) if Chanel sold its bags online (even if it excluded classics).

Back to our original question:  what’s the most you would spend for an item online?  And do you wish Chanel and Dior handbags were available through their websites?