Luxury fashion e-tailer Mr Porter has moved into watches and sells a selection of classically styled timepieces from brands including Timex, Uniform Wares, Braun, Luminox and Junghans. We speak to Mr Porter buying director Toby Bateman about how dedicated e-tailers and the internet in general has impacted watch sales.
WatchPro: Why are customers increasingly turning to online retail destinations such as Mr Porter, where they can find all product types online?
Toby Bateman: I think convenience and familiarity both play a part. We are increasingly time poor, and men particularly would prefer not to traipse around the shops in their leisure time instead turning to the likes of Mr Porter at a point that suits them whether it is from the sofa on a Sunday morning or on a smart phone in between meetings. I think we have been successful in that we try to offer the best in men’s style coupled with our award-winning content. Not only do you come to us to buy a pair of brogues, but you can also gain invaluable information on how to wear them, care for them and so on. This helps the customer make informed choices and to confidently buy even if they’ve not tried them on.
WP: Are you finding that consumers are increasingly comfortable with buying high-end, luxury items such as watches online? And how important are watches to your product line up?
TB: Fine watches are a great new addition to our product offer, and we launched this with Bremont in September. Ideally we want our customers to be able to come to us to buy the best in global style, be it a tuxedo, the perfect pair of jeans or a leather jacket. And these men also have a healthy interest in watches; it very much fits into what they want.
WP: Do you think more traditional retailers can and should embrace online opportunities, and if so, why?
TB: I think with traditional retailers, in the most part for menswear, it tends to be a small tab as part of a bigger retail site, and with traditional bricks-and-mortar store the expertise is very much in traditional retailing, as it should be. The Net-a-Porter Group has over a decade of experience in online retail and I think our mix of content and commerce is very much part of our DNA. We understand every facet of the online experience and have always worked to ensure that customer service, and as importantly, experience are second to none.
WP: What is your opinion of how the internet is influencing consumer spending on watches?
TB: I think that when it comes to certain items that men traditionally covet, the internet is the perfect vehicle to fuel this passion. Cars for example – men love them and generally wish for the one they probably can never afford but it doesn’t stop them following blogs or Instagram feeds about them, and this is simply because they enjoy looking at them. All the same for watches – new or old. I think the Internet has massively increased the interest in fine watches so if you follow this logic through to its natural end – why stop at simply looking online, why not buy too?