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Shopping for diamonds in lockdown? WhatsApp could be your greatest good friend By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer season 2021 ready-to-wear assortment in Paris

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By Claudia Cristoferi and Silvia Aloisi

MILAN (Reuters) – As Italy entered a brand new coronavirus lockdown and shut retailers in March, Genoa-based jeweller Gismondi 1754 turned to messaging service WhatsApp to promote a 300,000 euro diamond ring to a rich Swiss shopper.

On the identical time, gross sales assistants at luxurious puffer jacket model Moncler have been arranging gourmand dinner deliveries to prospects properties so they may dine in type whereas watching a video streaming of the model’s newest assortment.

The pandemic has compelled luxurious items firms to make use of social media, video and digital showrooms to woo their rich prospects in Europe and hold them purchasing at a time when vacationers, particularly from China, have been absent for greater than a yr.

Retailers reopened in Britain and most of Italy on Monday, however they continue to be shut in France and entry is restricted in Germany, the place in Berlin, for instance, a damaging COVID take a look at is required to enter most retailers.

Senior executives within the trade stated this pattern of promoting outdoors the normal retailer community, whereas not changing the necessity for bodily retailers, is right here to remain.

“We’re studying that we are able to even have a excessive degree of service with a low degree of bodily contact,” Moncler’s boss Remo Ruffini instructed Reuters. “Distant gross sales are a brand new frontier, one thing within the center between e-commerce and a standard retailer.”

Analysts say that lockdowns and “staycationing” imply that rich Europeans have cash to spend that they don’t seem to be splurging on fancy resorts or Michelin (PA:) starred eating places.

Designer manufacturers are eager to seize a few of that money.

Excessive-end labels resembling Hermes, which was once extra reticent to promote on-line, have needed to totally embrace e-commerce. On-line revenues for the trade have doubled to just about 20% of gross sales prior to now yr alone, based mostly on analyst estimates. Boston Consulting Group expects that share to rise to 25% by 2023.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Luxurious labels have additionally invested in reworking retailer assistants into private customers who pamper their VICs – essential purchasers – by sending them merchandise at dwelling and be in contact frequently. Most manufacturers now stream merchandise on social media and present prospects particular product movies.

Earlier than the pandemic, Gismondi wouldn’t have offered a 300,000 euros, 10-carat diamond ring with out displaying it to the shopper in individual. “I used to be on the cellphone chatting with the woman who’s shopping for it, and it got here up that this was the dream of a lifetime for her,” Massimo Gismondi, chief government of the jewelry group, stated.

From that second, an trade began with the woman through WhatsApp and video-calls to search out the right design for the ring that will probably be delivered to her dwelling.

“Individuals are yearning for leisure, for returning to savour life and spending,” Gismondi instructed Reuters.

French luxurious group LVMH’s star label Louis Vuitton along with on-line gross sales has began taking its retailers to rich purchasers’ doorsteps in the US.

The “LV by Appointment” marketing campaign primarily brings a tailored store on wheels to the shopper, curated with a personalised number of items – from leather-based items to watches and perfumes – for many who go for the service.

LVMH, the primary to report outcomes for the primary quarter, set a really bullish tone for the trade. Revenues bounced again strongly, with its style and leather-based items division surging 52% – double analysts’ forecasts. Gross sales in Europe remained in damaging territory, however the 9% decline was a serious enchancment from the minus 24% seen within the fourth quarter.

Luxurious manufacturers have had a robust restoration in China since retailers started to reopen there final spring. However in Europe and the US discovering new methods to attach with prospects has helped them to mitigate final yr’s gross sales declines.

Analysts say that enhancing gross sales in these two areas also needs to assist revenues this yr. Gross sales in Europe and the US accounted for 60% of the entire in 2019, and will are available at just below 50% by 2025, consultancy Bain stated.

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Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Gucci proprietor Kering (PA:), stated in February that the group’s revenues from “distant gross sales” – or gross sales outdoors its world retailer community – had risen sharply final yr. The group had educated 400 gross sales assistants in 16 international locations for this goal, he stated.

One supply at an Italian luxurious style label stated usually a model’s advertising division will present an inventory of purchasers to contact, based mostly on what they’ve purchased over the earlier yr.

The gross sales assistants then cellphone prospects, present them the newest arrivals through video chat and ship them garments or footwear to attempt on.

“You create a robust relationship between the gross sales individuals and the shopper,” Prada (OTC:)’s CEO Patrizio Bertelli instructed Reuters.

“We’ve gone from the store assistant that merely exhibits you a product to somebody who additionally does a bit of selling, is aware of prospects, their style and their habits, reaches out to them and sends them stuff dwelling.”

A Milan-based PR government who spends on common 40,000 euros ($47,552.00) a yr in Prada’s shops stated that since final yr Prada has frequently despatched her movies about its garments.

“If there’s something I like they ship it dwelling. They know my measurement and if doubtful they ship a couple of measurement. I purchase what I like and I ship again the remaining,” she stated.

Over the previous yr, cashmere sweater label Brunello Cucinelli has been organising video calls with 30-40 prospects directly to maintain them engaged.

“It permits us to have a dialogue with numerous individuals which, if we needed to prepare a bodily appointment, would take us maybe 3-4 years,” the model’s co-CEO, Luca Lisandroni, instructed Reuters. He additionally stated that manufacturers shouldn’t turn out to be too insistent in making an attempt to promote their wares.

“Some individuals like being contacted and stimulated, others do not wish to be solicited an excessive amount of,” he stated.

($1 = 0.8412 euros)

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