The tally of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry that offer e-commerce on their sites increased last week when Breitling enabled online purchases in the U.S. But as outlined in L2’s latest Insight report, Watches & Jewelry: E-Commerce, fewer than half of brands in the category support direct e-commerce. While the luxury sector as a whole has been notoriously hesitant to adopt e-commerce, Watches & Jewelry brands have been far more reluctant than Fashion brands to do so. (Close to 9 in 10 Indexed Fashion brands support direct purchase on brand sites.)

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Many of the Watches & Jewelry brands that do open up to e-commerce keep it at arm’s length by implementing e-boutiques as separate destinations or “add-ons” to the primary brand site. Breitling, along with a quarter of Indexed brands that sell online, is taking this route as an attempt to maintain a pristine brand experience. However, these separated boutiques tend to mar the consumer experience by extending clicks needed to reach a product page, often introducing awkward shifts in site templates, and in some cases directing customers to out-of-stock items.

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The reluctance of Watches and Jewelry brands to embrace online sales is reflected in e-commerce sites that fall short given the product price points and customer sophistication. Only half of Indexed brand sites provide customer service during checkout, and fewer support one-page checkout. Furthermore, just 12 Indexed brands with e-commerce have incorporated five core functionalities (cart persistence, free shipping, customer service during checkout, cart continuity and one-page checkout). Ten of these were relaunched since 2013, highlighting the burden of playing catch-up in an industry dominated by a “launch and forget” approach to e-commerce agility.

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For more on direct e-commerce among prestige Watches and Jewelry brands, see L2’s latest Insight Report.

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