Hermès has become the latest fashion-and-accessories giant to embrace the luxury e-commerce explosion in China. Following in the footsteps of major rivals like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, the classic French brand launched its Chinese e-commerce website on October 17, signaling a campaign to capture the country’s free-spending online luxury shoppers.
A wide range of Hermès items, from ready-to-wear apparel (for women and men), accessories (shoes, jewelry, and fragrance) to handbags are available to purchase for consumers in China on the new site. However, the brand’s signature handbag collections Birkin and Kelly will not be available.
Hermès’s chief executive officer Axel Dumas disclosed the plan to launch the Chinese e-commerce website in October, during an interview with the American fashion trade journal WWD in September. Dumas also said he was considering a collaboration with JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce website, which owns the luxury portal TopLife and has a partnership with the British luxury e-tailer Farfetch.
The overall design of Hermès’ Chinese e-commerce website is the same as their official sites in the United States and European nations. However, the availability of products is different. For example, the Verrou Chaine mini bag is available on the American site at the price of $20,400, while it is not found on the Chinese one. In general, the Chinese online store has a much smaller choice of styles and items, at least initially.
Moreover, the prices are different. For instance, a blue Airsilk backpack bag is sold for $1,675 on the U.S. site. The same item is priced at RMB14,200 ($2,050) on the Chinese site.
This is not the first digital push by Hermès in China. In October last year, the brand launched a WeChat pop-up store for its collaborative Apple smartwatch in China. As the brand (and the luxury industry as a whole) increasingly relies on the Chinese market for business growth, it is a strategic move to step up its digital innovation within the country.
In September, Hermès reported its first-half financial earnings results, stating that the Asia-Pacific region has become responsible for about 35 percent of all sales worldwide of its bags, scarves, leather goods, fashion, etc.