Only last week, Net-a-Porter sold a £65,000 watch via Whatsapp. This transaction doesn’t show up as a visit on its eCommerce website, or even a conversion online, but it is a deeper and more meaningful customer relationship because it took place on a mobile. 

Speaking at the Decoded Fashion event in London, MD of Net-a-Porter, Matthew Woolsey, said: “Mobile is the enabler of connectivity, which necessitates that we think beyond the ‘store front model’ to succeed.”

He described how the movement to mobile – especially in luxury retail – was as significant as the move from bricks and mortar to online.

“But you can’t just treat mobile as an optimised version of a web experience, just as we couldn’t treat online as just another door in a store chain.”

Woolsey points out how traditional metrics of traffic and conversion, used in bricks and mortar and online, are no longer “telling us the full story of what our customers want”.

Ahead of the industry average, Net-a-Porter sees 60% of its online traffic come from mobile and 45% of sales. While sales from its top 2% of EIP (extremely important people) customers – which generates 40% of total revenue – engages even more on mobile with 60% of sales coming from smartphones. Meanwhile, this year its editorial traffic has increased 55%, with a 45% increase to digital subscriptions. 

These EIPs are using messaging tools to not only buy products using chat bots, but to see new products before they hit the website. This creates a deeper relationship with the brand. “It’s more meaningful than we’ve seen before,” he explained. 

Woolsey added: “Mobile is the primary touchpoint with the digital culture and is more intimate – it’s not just another platform to be transactionally optimised.”

Meanwhile, Woolsey noted how the luxury e-tailer is spending €500 million on technology and operations, which includes investment in IBM’s AI technology, Watson. “Our vision is every shopping journey will be a conversation between the customer, content and relationship with the brand’s personal shopper.”