Only One Remaining – Why Harrods beats e-commerce in 2023

A friend recently purchased a prestige label jacket from the retailer’s website. They then waited for delivery. Then paid a hefty sum (more on prices later) for its return when the color and size were different than shown online.

 

It’s part of a problem that e-commerce – the default lockdown shopping experience – won’t own up to. Some physical stores still offer better experiences in service and experimentation. And even in pricing.

Online shopping has its advantages, but the promise of a bespoke customer experience has its limits.

 

That’s not to say that e-commerce hasn’t changed the landscape. Venture outside of London and find market towns that have suffered. Customers have shifted from limited options available in generic outlets. To the limitless ubiquity of premium and luxury sites.

 

But in cities – the main hub for luxury shopping – retail and department stores have greater leverage.

City department stores offer an experience that is still the ideal for all retailers 

 

Here’s the deal. City dwellers and visitors seek experiences to justify their busy and expensive lives. These cultured and traveled folk also want to mix in environs where they’re valued.

 

Harrods chief Michael Ward speaks at length about these expectations. Product and experience are at the heart of the luxury journey. E-commerce can offer convenience and a fast-fashion edge. But for the experience luxury shoppers desire, the upmarket in-store experience is best.

 

What’s more free returns are becoming less common. Around 40% of fashion items go back to the seller. Fashion-forward buyers are finding the numbers don’t add up either.

 

For Alpha brands like Harrods, the store model works for several reasons. Location, history, and grandeur are some. Additionally, Harrods leverages e-commerce through first-rate data analysis of customer trends.

Harrods blending of the physical and virtual shopping space offers a glimpse of the future

 

Most other retailers can’t copy the Harrods model. But the 154-year-old store provides a vital glimpse of a luxury future. Cities bestowed with the finest department stores. Drawing in luxury crowds whether online or in person.

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