It is no secret that the future of retail is online. This goes for most consumer products yet this has additionally started to affect the extravagance world, which includes watches. After several Richemont brands entering e-commerce together with Net-a-Porter and Mister Porter (think IWC later followed by other members of the Group), it’s now time for Audemars Piguet to begin testing such retail processes, yet in a non-conservative and unprecedented manner, as the very good quality watchmaker has quite recently started to test E-Commerce in China with a pop-up boutique on JD.com.
While the European and American markets are still rather conservative in the manner watches are offered to clients, who actually rely on actual retail location, the Chinese market has demonstrated to be substantially more mature when it comes to online shopping, basically due to the innovative soul of two e-commerce monsters: Alibaba and JD.com. Both have recently launched extravagance entries – Luxury Pavillon for Alibaba and TopLife for JD.com – on which most extravagance products can be purchased, through WeChat e-stores. Furthermore, if this may sound inconceivable in Europe or in America, this is the way Chinese consumers are presently doing.
Audemars Piguet and its up-to-date CEO François-Henry Bannahmias imagined that a chance was opening here. This is the reason the Le Brassus-based brand, otherwise not shy of relying on customs for its communication, has decided to announce the opening of its first online pop-up boutique in partnership with JD.com. If Audemars Piguet states that this partnership is a perfect combination of simple “Swiss Made” and advanced “Chinese Speed”, this is likewise a path for the brand to access to one of the largest markets on the planet, where closeness with an actual retail location can be problematic, notwithstanding the well established certainty that the Chinese middle class are increasingly shopping online.
According to the brand, which is going to hit the critical 1-Billion Swiss Francs barrier in turnover, the Chinese market is becoming faster than at any other time – confirmed by the exports to China, which rose 18.8 percent a year ago, as per the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (and development this year is expected to be even faster).
Several models of Audemars Piguet’s collection, going from CNY 149,000 (USD 24,000) to CNY 463,000 (USD 74,000) – including the Kakhi ROO Diver, the ladies’ ROO Chronograph, the Yellow Gold RO Chronograph or the RO Quartz with jewel bezel – are offered to consumers through the Swiss brand’s e-store on China’s WeChat online media stage – a specific extravagance service, which includes the shortest possible delivery time with personal couriers.
The first client to order online has just received his watch directly from the hands of François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, and Richard Liu, founder of JD.com. Later sales will be handled directly through a pop-up store under WeChat and by China’s largest e-commerce stage JD.com.