The Luxury E-Commerce Wars Heat Up

The Luxury E-Commerce Wars Heat Up

On one side: Amazon. On the other: a new alliance of brands and platforms. Who will win?

Editorial Rating



  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


Amazon might be the “everything store,” but if you sell high-end luxury goods, Amazon may not offer the branding you want. After trying to develop a myriad of unsuccessful individual platforms, a group of luxury goods companies are partnering with Alibaba by investing in Farfetch, a leader in online sales of luxury goods. They hope their investment will further support a viable competitor to Amazon, which is creating its own “luxury stores” app. The venture partners hope to capture part of the lucrative Chinese luxury market, which will be worth $178 billion by 2025.


Instead of banding together online, luxury goods companies tried to create individual platforms.

Five years ago, Johann Rupert tried to convince his peers at a luxury goods industry meeting to create one “dominant neutral” site for the industry. Rupert, who is the chairman of Richemont, which owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, failed to unite his peers. The leaders of LVMH, Kering – which owns Gucci, St. Laurent and Alexander McQueen – and the other high-end brand executives present, preferred to go it alone. In retrospect, that decision cost luxury goods companies dearly.

To capitalize on the fragmentation in the luxury market, Amazon launched “special storefronts” from May to October 2020 in the United States and Europe. Working with Vogue and “local fashion councils,” these sites promoted designers whose business suffered when department stores closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon also created a “Luxury Stores” app targeted to its 150 million...

About the Authors

Elizabeth Paton covers European fashion and the luxury market for The New York Times, where Vanessa Friedman is fashion director and chief fashion critic.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same authors

Global Brands Find It Hard to Untangle Themselves from Xinjiang Cotton
Livestreaming Is on the Rise. Here’s What It Means for the Future of E-Commerce
Demystifying Global Consumer Choice
Why Everything Is Sold Out
Amazon Has Turned a Middle-Class Warehouse Career into a McJob
6 Trends Rising E-Commerce Players Are Leveraging to Compete Against Amazon
The Transformational Power of Recommendation

Related Channels