Audemars Piguet takes its first tentative step into direct-to-consumer e-commerce

Francois-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet CEO.

Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet is opening an online pop-up boutique in partnership with JD.com.

The initiative marks the 143-year-old Swiss manufacturer’s first entry into e-commerce, but is unlikely to be the last. In January this year, François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, said: “2018 will be the test [for e-commerce]. 2019 will be the explosion.”

JD.com is China’s largest online retailer, and considered a leading trendsetter in the country’s digital transformation.

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The collaboration between JD.com and Audemars Piguet is described as a perfect combination of analogue Swiss made and digital Chinese speed by the companies.

Customers who buy an AP watch online will have it delivered by JD.com’s team of white glove luxury concierge couriers.

The ability to complete a transaction online for an AP-owned e-commerce project is a step further than Mr Bennahmias said he would go this year.

“We we will do real online, but you not going to be able to put a watch into a basket and check out,”he said at SIHH this year. “We are going to use online as a tool to talk to more people and to deliver a better experience,” he added.

The first client to place an order in China will receive their watch directly from the hands of Mr Bennahmias and Richard Liu, founder of JD.com.

To encourage customers to shop online, Audemars Piguet will sell some of its boutique-only special editions on the pop-up store.

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