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Watchfinders: Disrupting the traditional luxury market

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But the luxury market is one of many sectors that has seen disruptive businesses enter the playing field. And for those growing firms looking to compete against larger and affluential retailers in the luxury arena, a gap in the market is clearly evident.

One such company is second-hand luxury watch supplier Watchfinder. Brand director Lloyd Amsdon recalls that it all began “back in 2002 when Stuart Hennell, the current managing director, returned to the UK after living abroad as an engineer.

“He was in search of a decent pre-owned luxury watch,” Amsdon explains. “But upon finding this difficult to source, Stuart and a couple of friends decided that it was time for a change and created an online facility to buy and sell pre-owned luxury timepieces. This was also at a time when the dotcom crash had taken effect, so it was a risk, but the opportunity was there for us to build Watchfinder into a major player in the pre-owned watch market.”

“Initially there was an apprehension for the customer both in buying luxury online and pre-owned. Experience and attention to maintaining the highest levels of customer service (Watchfinder has a Trustpilot score of 9.7/10 based on 2,719 customer reviews) has built our reputation to be a brand to trust.

“Our dedicated Service center service and the fact that we polish around 600 watches a month means we can offer a Buy Back Guarantee over the majority of stock and over a 12 month in house warranty,” he said.

“But what has truly made Watchfinder such a success is the fact that we were the first in the market place to embrace a digital presence, which has helped develop some fantastic assets to the company.”

This doesn’t merely mean that the customer journey can be a digital process, the Watchfinder website is buffed to the max, with the company making sure to maximise their online visibility by the popular saying: content is king.

“This includes ‘The Watch Magazine’, which is our free in-house online publication,” Amsdon said. “It has now surpassed 120,000 downloads since its launch in March 2012. We have also been able to create an email database of 240,000, of which we regularly host events at our boutique in order to get to know our customers on a more personal level who share in our love of luxury watches.

“But this isn’t the only factor that I’d attribute to our growth,” he adds. “Having a superb product is fundamental to our continuous growth. Ensuring we put the best product in front of the customer gives us an edge in not only attracting new customers, but growing the amount of repeat purchases as well. 

“The high-level products we make available to customers are driven by our manufactures accredited service centre, which services and refurbishes every watch that comes into the company to a high standard.

“And although we started Watchfinder as an online retailer, we have been able to develop the company as a truly multichannel experience driven by our flagship boutique which opened in The London Royal Exchange back in February 2012. 

“The modern luxury customers want to seamlessly move between marketing channels, so we ensure we supply a seamless journey,” he concludes. “When we look at our balance between online and offline, we make sure we have a strong presence in both, but make sure they support each other and ensure we use common messages across all media.”

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