The future of retail is social25 September 2020
/ Burberry leads the way for social retail /
We have already written on these pages about the momentous change that the Coronavirus pandemic will bring to retail. When social distancing means less people per hour can enter any store, and when the preoccupation with cleanliness means that the less they touch the merchandise, the better, stores need to find new ways to make the shopping experience interesting and enticing. In this revolution, British luxury fashion house Burberry is ready to lead the way: this summer the brand launched its first social retail store, blending the physical and social worlds in a digitally immersive retail experience.
“Burberry has always been a brand of firsts, built on a belief that creativity has the power to open spaces. We test new ideas and push the boundaries of what’s possible,” commented Marco Gobbetti, CEO at Burberry. “When it came to innovating around social and retail, China was the obvious place to go as home to some of the most digitally savvy luxury customers. Burberry’s social retail store in Shenzhen is a place of discovery that connects and rewards customers as they explore online and in store. It marks a shift in how we engage with our customers and we can’t wait to share this innovative experience with the world.”
Opened on July 31st in China’s technology hub, i.e. the city of Shenzhen, the new store is a space of exploration, designed to inspire and entertain luxury customers by giving them a chance to interact with the brand and products in new ways, in person and on social media. The project was created in partnership with major Chinese-based multinational tech company Tencent, who provided the technology integration. The 540sqm store is made up of a series of spaces for customers to explore, each with its own concept and personality, offering a unique interactive experience. “Thomas Burberry was an inventor and a dreamer,” said the company in a statement. “The new social retail store reflects Burberry’s pioneering history of firsts and ambition to continue to push boundaries through innovation and creativity. It is a unique space to test and learn, and to trial innovation.”
The new store features fixtures and plinths in a variety of materials and textures, from plywood to mirror and high-gloss finishes, in a color palette of beige, pistachio, pink and blue, as well as references to the Thomas Burberry Monogram. Upon entering, customers encounter the first digital experience: an interactive window with a living sculpture that reflects the viewer’s shape and responds to body movement while evolving to the brand’s latest seasons and products.
But the idea is that the store can be experienced both in person and virtually. Tencent has developed a custom system based on their chat program WeChat, a bespoke digital companion tailored to enhance the way customers experience the store, whether they are there physically or virtually. With this system, the more customers engage with Burberry, the richer their experience becomes: within the program they earn “social currency” that translates into rewards and unlocks exclusive content and personalized experiences. More generally, through the program they…
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