September 13, 2012
British retailer Burberry recently unleashed its most technologically-advanced property in the heart of London that is designed to increase customer engagement and in-store sales through a digital and tactile experience that shows off the brand heritage.
The 44,000-square-foot store in Regent Street in London was developed as a physical expression of Burberry.com, fully immersing shoppers in a combined digital and physical experience. Key features include 100 screens, the tallest indoor retail screen in the world and 500 speakers.
"This store adds value to Burberry because it allows them to display that the brand is on the cutting-edge especially in new technology and creating interactive experiences for their clientele to enhance their shopping experience," said Dalia Strum, president of Dalia Inc., New York
"This store will provide a more seemless approach through innovative brand marketing and creating a more enjoyable, even desired consumer experience," she said. "By tailoring the use of technology to enhance the consumer experience, this could essentially translate to extending their time spent in store, to creating a desire for their clientele to return."
Ms. Strum is not affiliated with Burberry, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Burberry declined comment for this article.
Burberry is intertwining digital and physical components in its new store.
There are approximately 500 speakers and 100 screens to engage consumers through emotive brand content.
Largest retail screen
There are also digital takeovers synchronized across all screens and speakers at set times throughout the day. Another key feature is the tallest indoor retail store in the world at 22 feet.
The Burberry store will also be more technologically-innovative when dealing with merchandising and inventory.
For example, there will now be RDIF chips woven into apparel and accessories as well as triggers with bespoke multimedia content relevant to the products.
Mirrors will also turn instantly to screens with runway footage and exclusive video.
Brand employees will carry iPads with applications on them that will provide access to purchase history and customer preferences to enable a more tailored shopping experience.
The store also includes bespoke digital signage that will give customers adaptable multimedia content when entering different floors and facets of the space.
Main collections including Burberry Prorsum, Burberry London, Burberry Brit, Burberry Childrenswear, accessories, shoes, Burberry fragrances and Burberry Beauty will be available in the store.
Despite fancy in-store tech innovations, Burberry must make sure that all experiences align with the brand image.
"It is not clear that a technological in-store experience is important," said Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights, Miami. "It is the store experience that matters – not the technology.
"If technology enhances the experience then all is well," he said. "If it overwhelms the experience or product then we have a failure."
Tailoring the experience
Keeping in tune with the luxury image, Burberry’s new store has exclusive experiences.
For instance, this is the first physical experience for Burberry Bespoke. There are also limited-edition collections of men’s and women’s trench coats, shoes and bags to celebrate the opening.
Tailoring in the Regent Street store
Other key features include specialist areas representing every facet of the brand, out of hours and online collection service, a concierge service, alteration service, guest Wi-Fi, iPads connected to Burberry.com and valet service.
Burberry definitely needs to keep an eye on its technology, especially since electronics that refuse to work completely detract from the customer experience, Mr. Ramey said.
"Technology changes quickly because Burberry may build the most technologically incredible store, but they will soon be one-upped another retailer and newer technology," he said. "ROI is remains important and technology ages quickly.
"Technology can make the experience fun and memorable, but it can just as easily get in the way too," he said. "Loud music creates a vibe until you want to talk.
"Flashing lights create energy until you try to determine whether one product matches another. IPads are great tools until the salesperson requires it to answer a simple question."
The Regent Street store will also host established and emerging talent in music, film, theater and art. In addition to the events, there will be a live-stream available on Burberry.com so that the experience can be accessed by a global audience.
Finally, 1 percent of the value of all purchases made in the Regent Street store will support the Burberry Foundation.
The Burberry Regent Street store was built in collaboration with creative director Christopher Bailey and British craftspeople including carpenters, stonemasons, metal workers, welders, specialist gilders, decorative plasterers, cabinet makers, mill workers, wood carvers and joiners.
The Lantern Room
There are British-made bespoke lanterns, furniture, plasterwork and floors to give a distinctly British vibe and to show off Burberry’s heritage.
Keeping in touch with its British roots has always been of the utmost importance for Burberry, with most of its campaigns, events, fashion shows and other marketing efforts heavily focused on London, Britain and the weather.
Burberry even keeps the tradition alive through original features that allow in natural light and the sound of rain to let consumers see, hear and feel the energy of weather and the role it plays in Burberry’s heritage.
"Any opportunity to engage with their consumers allows the brand to create memorable experiences, where they begin to integrate into their lifestyle," Ms. Strum said.
"This strategy can establishes brand-loyalty for the consumer and opportunities the brand to better connect and understand their target market," she said.
Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York