Wempe, Germany’s biggest retailer of luxury watches, is creating a transactional ecommerce website that will launch in Q1 next year.
The company will begin selling online in Germany first, most likely around March next year.
It will expand into other markets where it has physical stores, including the UK, where it has just completed a major refurbishment of its Bond Street, London, boutique.
Jan-Piet Stempels, Wempe’s executive board member for marketing told WatchPro that the aim is to become a world-leading omnichannel retailer.
“We are developing digital services that complement our shops. We do not just want to sell product,” he says.
Wempe has fallen behind its main European rival, Bucherer, in digital reach and e-commerce. Bucherer benefited from buying The Watch Gallery in the UK last year, which already had a well-developed digital strategy.
Every luxury watch brand will be available to buy on Wempe.com except Rolex and Patek Philippe.
The business, which has 26 stores in Germany and another ten in other countries, says all of its watch brands have been supportive of its plans. “They want digital to be of the same quality as the experience customers get in store, and we support that,” says Mr Stempels.
Wempe’s late conversion to ecommerce is a departure from its previous strategy of using its website to drive traffic to its physical stores. An advert in London this week specifically says that the way to buy a watch online is to 1. Go to Wempe.com, 2. Get directions to the boutique, 3. Meet with our passionate team on New Bond Street.