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It has taken luxury retailers much longer to board the ecommerce train than the rest of the retail industry. Why? Exclusivity. Luxury brand strategy has typically been: more exclusivity creates higher demand, which in turn drives up price and perceived value.
This strategy has shifted over the course of the last year, with multiple luxury brands launching their own ecommerce sites and many more planning to do so by 2016. Earlier this year, however, the lack of luxury brands online was quickly brought to the forefront thanks to rumors concerning Amazon’s potential acquisition of luxury marketplace Net-a-Porter.
That acquisition didn’t go through, but Net-a-Porter was purchased –– by the same parent brand that runs luxury ecommerce sites for Marni, Valentino and Moschino. The acquisition has left many speculating about if and how Amazon will enter the luxury ecommerce industry, but Net-a-Porter isn’t a brand to take a backseat when it comes to press.
This week, the luxury online marketplace announced what it calls the first-ever shoppable social network. The Quartz explains exactly what this app is:
“Called The Net Set, its users will be able to interact and share images like most social networks — with a twist. The company’s image-recognition software will analyze the images and find the closest match in Net-a-Porter’s inventory, then offer it up to users for purchase.
Take a picture of your friend’s shirt that you love, and The Net Set will find it, or a close match. And it doesn’t just work for images of clothing: Snap a particularly purplish sunset and The Net Set might recommend this ombre Burberry Prorsum dress.”
In all, the app is the perfect marriage of tech and shopping, especially on mobile. What’s more is that this announcement comes at a time in which larger social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are trying to connect these very same dots between platform and checkout –- and so far have done so unsuccessfully.
There are other social shopping platforms including Wanelo, Fancy and Houzz, but they are specific to shopping –– with much less of a focus on the actual social network itself. Think of these platforms like a Pinterest –– in which you have a one-click buy button. Its useful, but it’s still a shopping engine. The Net Set differs in that it combines both the social and shopping functionalities –– recommending products as you share updates and photos with friends.
Leave it to the only company capable of convincing luxury retailers to allow them to sell their goods online to be the first company to finally bridge the gap between social and shopping. Bravo, indeed. The next hurdle: gaining the user base Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have long been building.
Watch Net-a-Porter’s executive chairman and founder Natalie MAssenet introduce The Net Set:
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