While some online retailers try hard to mimic the in-store shopping experience, Burberry is headed in the opposite direction. The 156-year-old brand has opened one of the most futuristic stores in the world on Regent Street in London, and going inside is like walking into a fully online experience.
Music, an emotional experience, a place to relax – Burberry is not about shopping, says Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey. “The important thing for me is that when you go in, you feel entertained.” Many have compared Burberry’s new store to the Apple shopping experience, largely because it is the closest thing to it. But this Burberry store is different.
All the comforts of home
When they walk in, customers have an audio-visual experience that is out of this brick-and-mortar world. Floor-to-ceiling screens offer visual stimulation, while 420 speakers stationed throughout the store give an audio experience to match.
If you think that’s over the top, take a look at the clothing and other merchandise, which has RFID tags embedded into them that literally bring them into the digital experience. When a customer walks near a sensor in the store or in a changing room, a mirror might turn into a screen that displays information about the product or a runway video of what the product looks like in use.
When you have decided on your purchase, you can go to a checkout if you like, but more likely you will have a seat on one of the store’s sofas and wait for a staff member to bring you your purchase all wrapped up and a swipe machine ready for your card. Bailey says, “We designed it like that because when you’re shopping at home online, you are on the sofa with your credit card. You don’t stand up and queue.”
Here comes the rain again
One of the most unusual aspects of shopping at the new Burberry store is the digital rain shower. While throughout the store there are individual digital experiences happening all the time, when it is time for the rain shower all the speakers and all the screens bring the experience to every customer in every corner of the store, starting with a light rain and culminating in a heavy shower. Whether you are just walking into the store or in a change room, the experience will make you pause, along with everyone else in the store.
With a staff armed with iPads floating through the store, the ability of customers to browse the entire line of merchandise while lazing on a sofa, and even high-speed elevators to ensure that staff can get information on item availability quickly, Burberry’s new flagship store is certainly the talk of the retail town. Of course, with any new product, there are kinks to work out, but the entire shopping experience is just that, an experience. As Bailey says, “Most of us are very digital in our daily lives now. Burberry is a young team and this is instinctive to us. To the younger generation who are coming into adulthood now, this is all they know.”
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