Internet shopping for expensive goods also appeals to people nervous about going into a luxury store because they don't understand the merchandise or feel pressured to buy by a sales representative. Vincent Polisano, president of the Philadelphia-based jewelry designer Diana Vincent, says he decided to sell products through Ashford.com in part to reach "someone who Glashutte Second Scale GSH-16 uncomfortable walking into a store where they see all the beautiful people are running the business and everybody's got an attitude."
Houston-based Ashford.com got its start when Robert Shaw, who ran a local tech-consulting firm with friend James Whitcomb, decided to sell watches online after a jewelry-store clerk in an upscale mall came on too strong with a sales pitch. In a year, the pair raised $30 Glashutte Senator Calendar GSH-35 from venture capitalists and expanded the site to include jewelry and fashion items.
For Ashford, the biggest hurdle was winning the trust of suppliers, who are accustomed to the security expertise, marketing skills and brand reputation of retailers. For help, the company recruited to its board Colombe Nicholas, former chief executive of Anne Klein Co., and hired Jill Newman, a veteran fashion journalist, to write features. Ms. Newman Glashutte Senator Collection GSH-33 connected the firm to trendy designers.
Mr. Polisano was one of the first to sign up, partly because he knew he could easily check Ashford's site to make sure it didn't discount Diana Vincent products, which average around $3,500. Recently, he even asked Ashford to change the pictures of some products, which it promptly did. None of the select group of stores that carry Diana Vincent designs challenged the move, Mr. Polisano says, because "e-commerce distribution of fine jewelry is going Glashutte Senator Collection GSH-36 be a very, very limited percentage of the overall market."
Nonetheless, few purveyors of luxury goods are sticking to bricks and mortar alone. Saks Inc.'s Saks Fifth Avenue is preparing to launch its first e-commerce Web site this summer. Nordstrom Inc. added jewelry and high-fashion items to its abundant shoe selection online last year. "We are going to have more and more commonality between the site and the store," says Kathryn Olson, executive vice president of marketing for Nordstrom.com.
After running an information-only site for four years, Neiman Marcus began selling products online in February 1999. Glashutte Senator Karree GSH-37 company, most famous for its holiday catalogs with outrageous his-and-hers gifts, started with 500 items and expanded to 2,000 items by the holiday season. The inventory has grown since then, but it still doesn't include all the products the company offers through its catalogs and chain of 31 stores. Instead, the site offers popular "in season" items aimed particularly at younger, office-bound shoppers who are more likely to be using a computer.