Are Boutiques For Luxury Watches Going Extinct?

The watch world has long neglected the Internet. This is changing rapidly. Kim-Eva Wempe, CEO of the luxury watchmaker, on the impact of digitalization on the business of expensive watches.

An industry is awakening – taking care of the digital world: brands such as IWC proudly point out fans and followers in the social media, vendors such as Omega market special models only on the net, others assume that e-commerce will explode,What this means for the store at the jeweler, we talked to Kim-Eva Wempe.T he graduated businesswoman is a fourth-generation designer of the expensive timepiece and jewelery dealer Gerhard D. Wempe.

ICONIST:Frau Wempe, at the luxury watch fair in Theeliteswatches, the web was one of the most dominant themes.To what extent does the trend affect business in your boutiques?

Kim-Eva Wempe:Honestly?So far not at all.

ICONIST:Nevertheless, there is something to the industry.Many brand CEOs are no longer talking about the future of e-commerce only when the door is closed.

Wempe:I think we have to make a clear distinction: channels such as social media and online journalism are something quite different from the actual trade on the net .That the digital world will bring major changes is clear to us.

ICONIST:Let’s start with e-commerce: Do you see large shifts?

Wempe:In my opinion, this initially strongly depends on the region in which the customer lives.If you live in a city where many specialty stores are located, you are not so much dependent on digital trade.Once you have to drive a few hours by car to get to a sales point, the charm of ordering a watch in the net is, of course, significantly greater.

ICONIST:Quite concretely, why does Wempe not yet participate in e-commerce with a virtual shop on the website?

Wempe:We take the issue very seriously.However, there are currently obstacles.Some brands whose concession we have, for example, do not want certain information about their models to be found on our website.Others such as Rolex do not want to sell online because they are available across the country.In addition, because of limited series, we can not always provide every watch from the program.But I am very confident that we will soon come to solutions.

ICONIST:At the moment, the situation is such that a web market for luxury watches has emerged in the network.

Wempe:Yes, and we should all work together with new offers to curb it as much as possible.

ICONIST:Does the network also have advantages for you?

Wempe:We want to know that customers always want to know their wristwatch – no matter where they are.Of course we have traditionally trained staff, but the knowledge of those who come to us has increased.A nice development.

ICONIST:What can the customer find in a boutique that is not on the net?

Wempe:Especially advice.No website will ever be able to provide what a skilled employee does in person.Also the possibility to take the piece in hand, to learn how it works on the arm, can not be simulated in the net with the best will, everyone knows who already had a clock on the arm.In addition, there is the service: anyone who buys a precious watch wants them to be well maintained, so that their value remains stable.And if I can say that, we are very anxious to really deal with the people who come to us.Who is this?What does he expect?And we want to be there for all.From the collector , who orders his tenth clock, to the student, who saves an entrance model from the mouth.

ICONIST:Speaking of students: Especially in the case of clothing, the consumption behavior among the younger ones has changed a lot.Where you used to buy the first branded trench coat from the dealer in the city center, to order a bit later on the market place, you order today on the net.And then you are happy when the part is delivered directly to the door.

Wempe:This development has not yet really reached us.

ICONIST:One of the great advantages of buying an internet is that you can simply send back the clothes you like and keep your money back.Would that be so synonymous with watches conceivable?

Wempe:I do not know how to do that.Normally the models are supplied in a foil welded.The moment I open it to see how the piece is working right now, the purchase is irrevocably completed and the watch is no longer in the original state.Personally, I am, incidentally, always a little disappointed when I order something on the Internet and notice something like an open package that it was already with another customer.Topics such as the service of watches will be easier to transport to the web.

ICONIST:They themselves say that e-commerce is only part of the challenge.At the fair in Geneva, people felt that at times the times of the crisis, some brands look for their salvation in the social media, because they are a field they have little knowledge of yet – and therefore they sense the corresponding potential.

Wempe:I think the trend is directly related to the burglaries in China .30 per cent decline is enormous – and that there might be such a thing, some have not thought enough.This is why new revenue models have to be developed quickly.But one thing has to be seen clearly:as more and more special models are sold through social media, the exclusivity of the product we have built up over the years will suffer.That would be no good for anyone.

ICONIST:How will your company be represented on the Internet in ten years?

Wempe:Believe me:We have a lot in front and we want to do it as quickly as possible. But please understand that I can not say publicly what will happen (laughs) .We do not want the competition to bring ideas.