The demand for luxury footwear is showing no signs of floundering with GlobalData forecasting global growth of 23.8% from 2017-2022.
The launch of Martha Louisa is set to capitalise on this positive trajectory with founders Christoph and Susanne Botschen (previous owners of competitor site MyTheresa.com) attempting to carve a niche being one of few women’s only, online shoe destination. With the sector currently dominated by established e-tailers, Martha Louisa will need to showcase its expertise and point of difference in order to support future growth and meet the needs of increasingly demanding shoppers.
The list of hurdles for Martha Louisa looks challenging to overcome, however, the implementation of improved fulfilment services, exciting and convenient shopping experience with enhanced content, and frequent attractive collaborations will bolster sales and allow the brand to gain leverage ahead of its peers where shoppers are no longer solely focused on price but trading up for quality and value.
Historically premium and luxury retailers have been reluctant to sell online, however an increased presence signals an awakening in consumer appetite allowing the top end segment of the fashion market to expand within the digital channel. Established names such as Net-A-Porter, Farfetch and Matchesfashion.com are winning share offering engaging content, a wide brand offer and leading technological innovation as consumer behaviour has shifted to the desire to access high priced luxury items online. In addition, mid-market player ASOS, although not a direct competitor, is a source of inspiration, with its impressive customer proposition, and enhanced visuals, setting the bar within the online retail sphere posing a threat to fast fashion and luxury retailers alike.
The Martha Louisa website has some way to go in luring customers away from the recognised players, with the competition offering highly stylised editorial content, lifestyle stories, and aspirational images integrating shoppable content and consumer engagement. As social retailing becomes more prominent, investments in these features are crucial to drive visits and promote sales growth.
Where the brand falters is that it only covers a single category. The competition benefits from offering a varied assortment, including footwear, allowing for an extended reach and additional purchase opportunities. However, Martha Louisa’s focus allows the brand to become a specialist in the luxury shoe market and be seen as the go-to retailer for shoppers and it has managed to attract an impressive list of names to its roster, including the likes of Balenciaga, and Dolce & Gabbana, and an exclusive collaboration with Prada.
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For online retailers, fulfilment is a key focus area with the competition offering third party pick up, next day, same day and even 90-minute delivery (Farfetch offers a 90 minute delivery on selected Gucci products to nine major cities worldwide). As such, Martha Louisa will need to exploit all available fulfilment services, as the current proposition only offers standard and express delivery, in order to give a reason for purchase and be seen as customer-centric.