High end fashion houses, like most retail businesses, have been feeling the pinch of the current economic climate. With the pressure on to extend into new markets and reach new customers social media enabled e-commerce has increasingly become a focus for many fashion house executives. Many of the creative and business minds behind some of these global brands have been focused on attempting to balance the convenience and reach of an online shop with recreating the “magic” that made their real-world stores popular. But the really innovative and strategy-driven brand have been taking a different approach.
In a YouTube video released in September this year the Chief Creative Officer of Burberry, Christopher Bailey, explained how the company he works for is focused on the being a market leader in digital innovation. Instead of trying to embed live personal shoppers or custom sound tracks into the online experience, Burberry is bringing the best elements of Burburry.com into recently opened London store on Regent Street. The aim is to blend the online and offline environments to create a more immersive and intelligent brand experience.
The blurring of the lines between digital and real-world experience in the Burberry Regent Street store has included installing 3D live streaming hubs and an in-and-out satellite link so in-store customers can see shows anywhere in the world as they happen – and the world can see shows that happen in-store. There are floor-to-ceiling screens that wrap the entire store so it can change into a completely immersive video experience at a moment’s notice. RFID chips have been attached to many products so content showing how the product looks, how it has been made and other aspects of the product development story, can be be displayed on any of the couple of hundred in-store screens. Burberry have realised that people are interested in more than just buying a product. They want to be part of the story and enjoy the experience.
Burberry have been leaders in engaging with their customers in the social media space for some time now. They have developed the depth of knowledge to realise that customer feedback and interaction is part of the creative process. Moreover they have developed this knowledge within their online environments, so they know that content needs to be fast and responsive. The customer needs to be part of the story, not simply a passive consumer.
The fashion brand have a clear perspective that their online store is their main face to the world. That enables it to direct the development of real world stores. That’s impressive. The Regent Street store is likely to be unique in the scale of it’s digital execution but the lessons learned will soon spread around the world.
Burberry are creating an experience for consumers that is about exploring and entertainment. They are developing a marketing strategy that is putting the customer at the centre of everything they do – and aiming to delight and surprise at every turn.