Luxury shopping – should you buy in store or online?

Louis Vuitton store London

The luxury market is booming and has continued to grow over the last decade. Social media and celebrities have been two major factors in keeping our attention on the big name luxury brands and keeping everyone interested in buying the latest fashion pieces.

With most brands, the trend has been that the majority of shopping is done online and fashion retailers such as Asos, Pretty Little Thing and Missguided have taken the lead with this, becoming huge giants in the industry. On the flip side of this though, it has been affecting the sales on the high street and we are losing a lot of stores. This isn’t the same for the luxury market though as there are a lot of positive points for shopping for luxury goods online as well as in store.

The Online shopping experience

In 2017, luxury e-commerce grew by 23% which is more than three times faster than total luxury retail growth. Net-a-Porter were one of the first to bring global luxury fashion house products all together online. The online shopping experience that you get with them is fabulous, from the beautifully packaged parcels that they send you, to the extra special services they have such as delivery within the same day in London. Since the success of Net-a-Porter, there are now a lot of other similar websites such as FarFetch, Matches Fashion and My Theresa to name a few.

Luxury brands themselves though were pretty slow when it came to getting into e-commerce – Chanel being a good example of this. Perhaps they didn’t expect online shopping to become as huge as it has or perhaps they were not too bothered until they realised that every brand was moving into the digital world.

Netaporter shopping

image @ Pinterest

Savvy online spending

75% of luxury shoppers research online before they make their purchase which is a huge figure, however 72% of shoppers say that they actually prefer to purchase in store. This does not surprise me and I feel exactly the same way. If your going to spend a large amount of money on something you want to feel the product first, check that it fits and get an overall feel for what you are buying. A lot of shoppers are now doing this the other way around though, by trying the item in store first, and then buying it online using discount codes. Luisaviaroma are the best at offering discount codes and flash sales and are perfect for savvy shoppers that want to save themselves some coins.

Netaporter shopping

image @ Pinterest

Top 5 reasons to shop for Luxury goods online

  1. Using discount codes to get money off and for cheaper than the price you would pay in store.
  2. Some people feel uncomfortable shopping in designer stores which can have a reputation of being snooty with unhelpful shop assistants.
  3. It is a quick and easy process, with often same day delivery and a good returns policy. Some designer boutiques will not allow refunds, but give you in-store credit only.
  4. You can browse a selection of designer brands all under the one online destination.
  5. You can search for the same item over various online stores to find the best deal and again, often cheaper than in the boutiques,

The in-store shopping experience

For me, shopping in an actual boutique is a much more exciting experience than shopping online. Consumers want to feel special and be offered a good quality customer experience when they are buying luxury items. In stores like Louis Vuitton, Dior etc there is often a queuing system where you have to wait to be served by one of the sales assistants. This can take quite a long time which is the downside of this. However with the majority of these brands, you need to build a relationship with an SA (sales assistant) and they will help you when it comes to reserving the latest pieces from the new collections. Hermes is one of those brands where this is crucial. If you ever want to purchase a Birkin bag, you will only ever have the chance if you are a known regular shopper with a solid relationship with an SA.

Saint Laurent handbag

Beautiful surroundings

Luxury stores know that we are living in a digital world now but they still want us to go into the stores. They know the importance of looking fabulous and are creating insta-worthy spaces to inspire people and encourage new visitors into the store. This is great advertising for them as images are posted onto social media and it gets everyone excited about going to visit the store. The Alexander McQueen store on London’s Bond Street is like an art museum with a huge egg in the doorway like something out of a Lady Gaga music video, as well as having the windows covered with nets holding bejewelled beetles. Louis Vuitton have just opened their newly refurbished store and it is also incredible – which was to be expected. And look at the Dior flagship store in Paris – the displays they put on the front of the building are so beautiful and worth the visit to see them.

Dior store Paris

Dior store Lady Dior bag

Dior store Paris

Top 5 reasons to shop for Luxury goods in-store

  1. You get to experience the overall feel for the brand so much more in-store.
  2. For the first class customer service and experience
  3. Being able to build a relationship with an SA so that you have a point of contact within the brand and they can help you to source items before anyone else – especially those extra special items that are hard to track down or sold out.
  4. Your purchase will be wrapped in their branded box, tissue paper and carrier bag which will be beneficial if you are a collector or if you plan to sell the item in the future.
  5. Being able to try on the clothing, to check the fit and feel of the products you are buying so you can be 100% sure that you are happy with it.

Saint Laurent packaging

Saint Laurent packaging

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post. How do you prefer to buy luxury goods?

What was the last thing you bought?

I would love to know your thoughts so leave a comment below.

Designer shopping at Bicester Village

Everyone loves finding a bargain, especially if it’s a luxury designer piece. If you’re a fashionista and into designer labels like I am, then you just have to visit the Bicester Village shopping outlet. I love spending a day there and you can find some absolute gems so it’s definitely worth visiting.

The Stores

Every time I have been to Bicester Village, there seems to be newly opened stores and they have over 160 premium and luxury brands to look around. The luxury stores range from Prada, Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga and more. Plus there is a giant Gucci store which has some amazing discounted items.

One of the other larger stores is Ralph Lauren and these two tend to be the busiest so I always aim to go to these at the beginning of my shopping trip as by the afternoon there can be queues to get inside them.

Throughout the year, there are often additional deals and sales on, so you can get even more money off of the already discounted prices which is amazing. They will often mention when they are doing these days on their website HERE so keep an eye out for those.

The outlet

Travelling from London Marylebone, the outlet is around a 45 minute train journey. I always tend to see other shoppers on the train and some people  actually take suitcases with them to carry home all of their shopping!

The outlet is not under cover like a regular shopping centre, it’s more like a designer shopping street, with each brand set in their own independent boutique store. The luxury stores have the same sort of feel to them as if you were in their London Bond Street branches, but with a reduction in the price from anything up to 60% off!

There are a few restaurants and cafes dotted around the outlet also so you can stop for lunch and snacks along the way. Again, these can tend to get quite busy during the day so I often try to have an early lunch there to avoid having to wait or queue. I would much rather have more time shopping!

I stared my recent trip to the Farmshop cafe for some delicious scones before I set off around the shops. This has a really lovely cosy barn feel to it.

Shopping tips for Bicester Village

Tip number 1 – My number one tip when visiting Bicester Village is to not plan what you want to buy. Just wait and see what they have on the day as they change their stock regularly and you just never know what is going to be there. So go with an open mind and you will not be disappointed.

Tip number 2 – is that if you like something, buy it there and then as if you go back later in the day, you cant guarantee it will still be there. It’ll probably be in one of those suitcases that you saw on the train there!

Tip number 3 – is to buy off season. It might be a cold Winters day when you are there, but if you find some gorgeous summer sandals, sunglasses or bikinis, it’s the perfect time to pick them up while you are there and definitely cheaper than if you try to buy them in the following June. Likewise,if you go in the Summer time, look out for Winter jackets – especially at Burberry for some amazing deals.

Tip number 4 – is to look for Christmas or birthday gifts when you are there. There are some fabulous bits you can pick up like candles from the White Company, stylish small leather goods at Smythson or Mulberry, underwear/pyjamas from Calvin Klein, or pretty jewellery at Links of London just to name a few!

Hopefully you have found this post useful if you are planning a trip to Bicester Village soon. Leave a comment below to let me know what bargains you have bought there before.

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