Lingerie e-tailers are being forced to cut their prices as savvy shoppers clamour for the best deals, according to industry professionals.

Speaking at a roundtable debate hosted by Lingerie Insight in London last week, directors and buyers said they are increasingly offering discounts in order to compete in the online price war.

“We kind of have to [offer discounts] – more so than we have previously – in order to react to what’s going on in the market,” said Lauren Thurston, branded buyer for lingerie and nightwear at Figleaves.

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“We find it particularly challenging to compete with brands that have paid for digital ads on various websites. These have become more prominent in recent years,” she added.

Even luxury e-tailers targeting wealthy consumers are having to slash their prices, according to Annabelle Mu’azu, founder and director of Beautifully Undressed, which sells premium brands like Fleur of England, Eberjey and Olivia von Halle.

“We are forced to offer discounts when we don’t really want to, so we are having to be a bit more strategic now as to when we do it,” she said.

“My problem is trying not to have offers all the time because our quantities are a lot smaller, but still trying to be attractive to the consumer.”

Lucy Litwack, managing director at Coco de Mer, agreed: “It’s much harder if you’re selling branded product that people can buy in multiple locations because it’s difficult to build customer loyalty.”

She explained that online shoppers are much more interested in discounts than boutique customers, who are looking for a VIP shopping experience.

“When you have an online store, you are always competing with value because our online customer is much more interested in offers than our boutique customer is. Our boutique customer hates sales. We have a sale twice a year and our customers can’t wait for them to be over, whereas the online customer craves discounts,” she said.

“I think that’s because we have so many loyal customers visiting our store who just want what’s new, plus stores never look as good during sale time and the experience isn’t as special.”