FEATURED Vogue Business: Is China ready to buy high jewellery online?

On 9 January, French high jewellery brand Cartier ramped up its e-commerce strategy in China with the opening of an official flagship store on Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba’s luxury portal. The move marks Cartier’s latest attempt to connect with digitally savvy Chinese consumers after the brand launched its Chinese online store in 2015.

On Tmall, Cartier offers all of its product categories, including jewellery, watches and accessories. It also provides customised services such as product engravings and gift wrapping, as well as interest-free payments in instalments for eligible shoppers. To celebrate the launch, Cartier collaborated with hip-hop singer Jackson Wang to exclusively release two collections: the Juste un Clou bracelet with diamonds ($4,689) and the Guirlande chain wallet bag ($1,357).

Guillaume Alix, Cartier China’s CEO, says the store aims at engaging the country’s young and sophisticated audience, which is as used to experiencing online journeys as offline ones. The move represents a start for the brand to serve clients in more convenient and innovative ways.

As an industry heavyweight, Cartier’s decision to venture into China’s biggest B2C marketplace is set to have sweeping implications for the high jewellery sector. Will it convince more jewellery players to join Alibaba’s luxury platform?

WHY TMALL?

The partnership between Tmall and Cartier did not come out of nowhere. Back in September 2019, the brand’s parent company, Richemont Group, which owns a slew of hard luxury brands including IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, formed a joint venture with Alibaba Group. Since then, the Chinese operations of Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP), which was acquired by Richemont in 2018, were transferred onto Tmall.

“Cartier and some other Richemont brands have already joined YNAP and Mr Porter,” says Amrita Banta, managing director at Agility Research. “The joint venture with Alibaba and YNAP is an opportunity for Cartier to open an online shop that will be managed like a boutique, use Tmall Luxury Pavilion’s logistics and have access to millions of potential Chinese clients.”

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