Overcome Online Resistance By Setting Up Store Windows

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NEW YORK ( -- Conde Nast’s site has broken through luxury marketers’ reluctance to dabble in the online world by creating a Web experience as much like the offline as possible.
The Chanel 'storefront' is just one of the high-end shops that is using to put luxury retailers online.

Microsites has launched a microsite featuring virtual storefront windows reminiscent New York’s Fifth Avenue at holiday time. The 10 store windows, which showcase expensive retailers such as Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger and Kiehl’s, mark a change for such marketers, many of whom do not even have an online advertising presence. There are so few luxury retailers advertising online that spending in the category is not measured by analysts.

Some have been reluctant to move online because of worries of channel conflict with their retail partners or that direct selling through the Web would be detrimental to their brand identity, said Patti Freeman Evans, retail analyst, Jupiter Research. “What’s important is the essence of the brand and the experience that you need to carry forth through all the channels,” she said.

Upholding the essence of the brand is precisely what is behind’s holiday campaign, said Dee Solomon, senior VP-managing director of, the site for Vogue and W magazines. is part of CondeNet, the interactive division of Conde Nast Publications.

Highest-end products
“The fact that is really about the highest-end products, most fashionable styles -- it feels very natural and very high-end,” she said. “We’re generating traffic the way store windows do.”

The windows appear in microsites, which readers click through to in response to run-of-site ads. The campaign started Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 23. The design appeals to advertisers such as Kiehl’s, because “each brand gets its own exclusive page and each item is photographed,” said Susan Towers, VP-global communications for the skin-care marketer. Kiehl’s storefront, like that of the other brands, was crafted by its own illustrator hired to create a window geared to that brand’s style. Alejandro Cardenas did Kiehl’s.

“The luxury market has been slower to adopt online retailing than other models. But the reach of online has been so effective in driving people into the stores that more are doing it,” Ms. Freeman Evans said.

Kiehl's no-ad policy
The store windows are designed to do just that. When a reader clicks on a product, they are brought to the retailer’s site to make a purchase or find out where the closest retailer is. Because of its no-ad policy, Kiehl’s had no way to drive people to its Web site. Observers expect Web traffic to retail sites to be particularly high this year in light of gas prices.

The window is a way to promote all the brand’s gift sets, which it features each holiday time. “ gets 1.25 million unique users a month,” said Kiehl’s Ms. Towers. “We’re not getting that. I think it will help drive people to our site.”

An e-mail promotion to a half-million users won’t hurt traffic either, she added. “It’s a way to inform them about the special items we are selling.”

She has high hopes for the promotion. “Online sales are about 10% of our business and it’s growing,” Ms. Towers said.

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