Why Can’t You Buy Chanel Online? The Best Way To Buy a Chanel Bag in 2023

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What’s the reason why you can’t buy Chanel bags online?

If you’re curious about why you can’t buy these Chanel products online, then check out the rest of this article for a detailed explanation. 

Take a quick glance at Chanel’s website and you’ll see all kinds of items for sale: makeup, perfume, and eyewear, just to name a few. What you won’t see are handbags, clothing, or shoes.

Why Can’t You Buy Chanel Online?

There are three main reasons why Chanel limits the types of products available on its website: brand strategy, exclusivity, and maintaining a luxury shopping experience. 

Keep reading for more details about each of these explanations. 

Brand Strategy 

For more than 10 years. Chanel’s brand strategy has had little to say in the way of e-commerce. While other luxury brands made the move towards online sales, Chanel has been staunch in its attitude toward e-commerce.  

That’s not to say the Maison has no online presence. In fact, with over 53 million followers on Instagram, Chanel has a bigger online audience than its closest competitors Hermès (12.4 million) and Louis Vuitton (50.2 million). 

What’s more, the brand has also partnered with luxury online sites like Farfetch and Net-a-Porter, as well as launched an app, Lipscanner, that allows customers to try cosmetics on virtually. 

Plus, Chanel does sell cosmetics, perfumes, and eyewear online. But despite increased online availability, the brand refuses to sell clothing, shoes, or jewelry online. 

can i buy a chanel bag online?
Photo credit: @chanelccprincess

This may seem like suicide in the era of e-commerce, but the strategy seems to be working so far. 

Indeed, the brand’s heritage, aura, value, and aspirational image have been strong enough to keep sales thriving. In 2021, Chanel reported $15.6 billion in revenue, representing a 49.6 percent increase compared to 2020 and a 22.9 percent increase compared to 2019. 

Given these figures, it’s clear that the brand’s reputation and desirability have actually increased over the past few years despite limited online offerings. 

It could also be argued that Chanel is playing the long game. Sure, they could potentially make more money by expanding their e-commerce presence but increased sales aren’t always the goal for luxury brands. 

Rather, by keeping its offerings exclusive, Chanel is preserving the quality of the brand and ensuring its profitability for years to come. 

why can't you buy chanel bags online

Luxury Shopping As an Experience 

Another reason Chanel limits its online shopping options is because of the brand’s belief in luxury shopping as an experience. 

Chanel’s president Bruno Pavlovsky has been quite clear on this point from the get-go. In October 2020 he told Vogue Business:

“Today, e-commerce is a few clicks and products that are flat on a screen. There’s no experience. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we look at what we can do, the experience is not at the level of what we want to offer our clients.”

In other words, Chanel believes shopping for luxury clothing involves trying items on, seeing them from multiple angles, and having them tailored. E-commerce doesn’t allow for this kind of experience, so the brand avoids it. 

To Maintain Exclusivity 

The third reason Chanel has such a limited e-commerce presence is to maintain exclusivity. If customers could simply hit ‘add to cart’ on a Classic Double Flap, it stands to reason that far more people would have them. 

buying chanel online
Photo credit @thech.icdetail 2

So, by requiring customers to visit a boutique to purchase selected items, Chanel maintains the exclusivity and aura surrounding its stores. 

On a related note, Chanel uses what products it does have online to encourage shoppers to visit boutiques. 

By offering just a glimpse of higher-end products online, Chanel makes its offerings just accessible enough without allowing buyers the total satisfaction of making a purchase. 

In this way, the brand’s limited online offerings make more expensive products even more exclusive and desirable than they already are. 

It’s also worth noting that not selling products online makes prospective buyers talk—about why Chanel products aren’t available online, which products are sold online, and where they can buy Chanel bags on other sites. 

All of this talk is free press for Chanel and is another source of exclusivity. 

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Can You Buy Any Chanel Products Online? 

As mentioned above, you can purchase lower-end Chanel products such as cosmetics, perfume, and eyewear on the brand’s website. More expensive items like shoes, clothing, and handbags are only available in boutiques. 

That said, there are a number of second-hand Chanel products available for purchase on luxury reselling sites like Fashionphile, The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective. 

Why Do Other Luxury Brands Sell Online? 

Given Chanel’s position on e-commerce, it’s natural to wonder why luxury competitors like Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès have made the decision to sell some, if not all, of their products online. 

One reason is that each brand has a different business model. Selling online may make sense for some more than others. 

For example, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent don’t sell couture dresses online but they do sell ready-to-wear because they make a lot of money selling entry-level products like t-shirts and sweatshirts. 

Another possible explanation for a larger online presence is the pandemic. This event was a big driver for previously e-commerce-shy brands to embrace the practice (at least to some degree).  Hermès is a good example of one such brand

Rather than seeing expanded e-commerce options as something that would undermine the brand’s reputation, Hermès leadership saw online sales as a platform to reach new customers and reinforce their relationship with existing customers. Check out this article on how to buy an Hermes bag directly from hermes.com.

As these examples show, there are multiple ways to incorporate e-commerce into a luxury brand’s business model successfully. Chanel limits its offerings and continues to be profitable.  Louis Vuitton and Hermès have gone in the other direction and have also found success. 

So, where can I buy a Chanel bag?

There are 3 options for buying authentic Chanel Handbags:

  1. Directly from Chanel Boutiques or Boutiques situated in luxury department stores (such as Saks or Nordstrom)
  2. Using resellers. A reseller will go to a boutique, buy the desired bag and ship it to you. You need to pay the price of the bag + shipping + a commission for the reseller. This will be the priciest option
  3. Using consignment shops, either physical or online. Depending on the exact bag that you're buying, you can get some really good deals for pre-loved Chanel handbags.
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Conclusion 

While it’s frustrating not being able to purchase your dream bag or heels from Chanel’s website, there is something to be said about a company boldly bucking the e-commerce trend. For now, this strategy seems to be paying off handsomely for Chanel and the brand doesn’t show signs of changing. 

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