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LVMH set to unite luxury & digital in multi-branded ecommerce platform

London - Although Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH, may still regret not investing in Microsoft early on, he is keen to ensure he does not make the same mistake in snubbing technology and is set to make the big move online. LVMH is reportedly set to launch its own multi-brand e commerce platform sometime this month, which will feature all of its 70 brands on one single site, according to the Financial Times.

At the moment LVMH has yet deny or confirms rumours concerning the multi-brand website launch, which will likely be part of Le Bon Marché, the French department store group owned by LVMH. However, if true the development would be the biggest step taken by LVMH since it hired Ian Rogers as Chief Digital Officer in 2015 and sees LVMH, which owns labels such as Gucci, Fendi, Celine and Louis Vuitton, moving forward in developing its luxury brands digital presence. However it is not necessarily the company's first play into the online world of retail. Back in 2000, LVMH launched eLuxury, an online platform dedicated to premium fashion, accessories and beauty. However, as brands in its portfolio began to launch their own standalone ecommerce platforms, LVMH announced it would shutter the multi-brand retailer in 2009 and transformed it into an editorial website known as Nowness.

LVMH said to launch multi-brand online website for all 70 brands

The multi-branded website launch would expand on plans Rogers previously shared concerning the digital future of the luxury brands held by LVMH. "We need the digital to become a part of these houses lives, just as the mobile has become an part of our lives," said the young digital head in a previous interview with French magazine JDD. "The new measure of time is a click. A customer finds a new clothing collection online and will then only buy it in the store - or straight away online. As a brand you have to be present everywhere with customers." A multi-branded online store would undoubtedly help LVMH connect its luxury brands with increasingly demanding digitally-driven consumer, although each labels store would likely have to be finely-tailored to ensure it continues to speak to its target audience. In addition, each online store front would also have to offer the unique shopping experience consumers experience in store when visiting the brands brick-and-mortar store, not an easy task.

On the plus side, housing all its luxury brands under one roof would also ensure luxury consumers have a one-stop shop locate for all their purchases, without the fear of being taken advantage of by savvy counterfeiters. At the moment it remains uncertain if the new multi-brand platform will operate on a marketplace or wholesale model, but the latter seems to be the more likely choice. LVMH previously made it very clear it would never work with other online marketplace platforms, such as Amazon, as it feels the image associated with such websites does not sit in line with its own at all. "We believe the business of Amazon does not fit with LVMH full stop and it does not fit with our brands," said LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony during a conference call last October. "There is no way we can do business with them for the time being."

Although ecommerce remains a small percentage of the overall luxury items sales, it is predicted to reach 70 billion euros by 2025, accounting for 18 percent of all luxury sales, before hitting a plateau according to McKinsey & Company. In addition, a recent study from the Boston Consulting Group warned that luxury companies which fail to continue developing their digital front could risk failling behind, as it remains the "inevitable, inescapable business shift of the future." So even though all of LVMH owned brands do have their own digital strategy currently in place, launching a multi-branded store and therefore unifying its brands in a single location, seems like a smart move on the conglomerate side.

Photo: Louis Vuitton, Facebook