Over the past years, luxury brands have strengthened their direct-to-consumer (DTC) operations: 30% of US online adults have purchased a luxury good directly from a brand or manufacturer’s website.

Using Forrester’s Digital Go-To-Market Review methodology, we reviewed 26 luxury brands across attributes essential to their long-term digital success and the strength of their direct-to-consumer operations — in other words, how well brands are positioned to thrive independently of retail partnerships and popular multibrand platforms such as Nordstrom and Net-A-Porter.

We found that high-performance brands:

  • Offer informative product detail pages (PDPs). Among US online adults who recently purchased a product in a physical store, 46% said that they did so to touch, see, smell, or hear the product before buying it. For luxury items especially, larger-ticket purchases require consumer confidence. Therefore, brands must provide more details than basic product information (e.g., materials, dimensions, sizing).
    • Examples: The Louis Vuitton PDP prominently includes order deadlines for the complimentary next-day delivery option and pop-out windows for information on nearby stores, additional product details, and delivery and returns. TAG Heuer includes a 3D view of its watches in addition to high-quality static images of the items both on and off the model.
  • Rigorously protect their presence online. Just 16 of the 26 brands we reviewed had any type of warning about the threat of counterfeit goods or guidance on how to recognize legitimate products. Yet 53% of US consumers are concerned about counterfeits and 49% worry about the quality of products sold on these sites. Authenticity is important to consumers, especially when it comes to luxury goods. Luxury brands must ensure that products sold under their name are authentic and authorized for sale to protect against the gray market.
    • Examples: The Canada Goose counterfeit info page includes a warning about counterfeit goods, contact information to report fake items, and instructions to identify genuine products. In another example, select Gucci items have an “authenticity tag” — a unique QR code that provides information about the product’s identity and offers personalized after-sale assistance from Gucci client advisors.
  • Innovate with technology to deliver a better customer experience. Fifty-six percent of US online adults say that they are always willing to try or do new things, so brands must meet their needs with new products, add-ons, and solutions. Luxury brands can offer immediate access to expert advice via live online chat and virtual appointments with sales associates, 3D try-on, or even their own secondhand marketplace.
    • Examples: Chanel allows customers to do a side-by-side augmented reality try-on comparison of two sunglasses styles. The Mulberry Exchange program allows customers to purchase authenticated, pre-loved bags. It also runs a buy-back program that lets customers return used bags and receive credit toward a new purchase.

If you’d like to learn more, please take a look at our latest report, Digital Go-To-Market Review: Luxury Brands, 2024. See also our earlier Digital Go-To-Market Review reports: apparel and footwear brands, CPG brands, and beauty brands. Questions? Let’s connect. Schedule an inquiry or guidance session with us!

(written with Senior Research Associate Taylor Hansen)