owever, they are buying less than in previous years. Overall, we are still up compared to 2016 – surprisingly, especially at the higher price points. In the other boutiques the business development varies from city to city, but overall our business is up. We expect the positive trend to continue. However, there will be new challenges and developments.
Customer expectations change over the years and will continue to do so. We need to listen to the customer, offer a product that is relevant, create an experience that is unique; not just scratch the surface but go deeper. Customers want to know, they want to understand, they want transparency, they want products from companies that take their social responsibility seriously. They are looking for companies and products that are doing more than just creating marketing stories. There must be substance. We see the future in providing our customers with experiences and insights, rather than just the product. Gübelin believes in the importance of a holistic experience and service, in keeping with our positioning as a retailer of top-end Swiss-made jewellery and watches.
The ‘new’ customers have different expectations about luxury, about shopping, about brands. Boutiques that are not open to new ideas will find it difficult to justify their existence in the future. You must always ask yourself the question, why should a customer buy this product? Why would the customer want to buy this product from me? If the only reason is ‘best price’ then it will be hard. Everybody wants a good price, however, I think substance is also important. The real high-end customer wants and deserves more and is not just driven by the price. Service, trust, passion, expertise and an outstanding consumer experience are the keywords here.
Since March 2017 we have operated our own e-boutique. We are quite proud to be the first retailer in Switzerland to go online with a selection of luxury products. We believe that the e-commerce business is opening up many opportunities for us, not just in Switzerland but worldwide.
Online business is becoming a new reality and it is our ambition to be part of this world. We strongly believe in the importance of connecting offline and online, and in creating a luxury experience, even if the customer buys or informs him-/herself online. Many online suppliers (not just in our industry) are looking for retail space to get in touch with customers. We have the retail space, and we are happy to expand in the other direction. There is of course an impact from online business, especially where it concerns unauthorised platforms, who get their supplies from sources that have too much stock. The grey market is saturated with products from many different sources. The growing number of online platforms is accelerating the grey market issue.
E-commerce in general is having an impact on the markets, although not yet all markets, in terms of turnover as well as price transparency. But in the end, the customer still wants to touch the watch. However, advice is available not just in our Boutiques.
For our e-commerce business we have a Concierge service phone line which is open until 10 p.m. Our Boutiques close between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. With the Concierge Service Line we can extend our business hours. We are also available when the customer is off work. We do not know about the future, but there might come a time when we are available 24h/24h. Because we sell globally, we have to give our customers a global service when they want and need it.”
Boutiques: Geneva, Basel, Lugano, Lucerne, Bern, St. Moritz, Zurich
Launch date: 1854
Category: High-range and middle-range
Brands represented: Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Parmigiani Fleurier, Roger Dubuis, Cartier, Piaget, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith, Bulgari, Breitling, Hermès, Montblanc, TAG Heuer