Burberry Open Spaces concept store launched in China

British retailer Burberry has partnered with China’s tech giant, Tencent, to launch its first digital retail store.

a woman wearing a Burberry scarf

British fashion house Burberry has launched its first concept store in China called Burberry Open Spaces.

Powered by Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent, the concept store uses social media interactions to connect the physical and digital space.

Using Tencent’s WeChat social messaging platform – China’s equivalent of WhatsApp – customers can engage with the physical and social space while exploring the store.

“It marks a shift in how we engage with our customers,” Burberry’s chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said. “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. It’s a unique space to test and learn, and to trial innovation that can be expanded to the rest of the Burberry network in China.”

The luxury fashion brand chose to set up Burberry Open Spaces in Shenzhen, China’s technology hub in the Guangdong province, with the aim to create an innovative shopping experience for Chinese consumers who contribute to around 40% of the company’s yearly sales. Burberry now has 61 stores in China and plan to expand their social network using the WeChat app which has more than 1bn users in the country.

Elliott Jacobs, EMEA commerce consulting director at LiveArea, said: “Luxury brands that continue to rely solely upon physical interactions with their VIP customers will be left behind. Brands need to consider how to weave new digital experiences into the traditional retail experience.

“In recent years, China has led the way in embracing mobile – from superapps and social media, to mobile payments and in-store retail experiences. Burberry’s social retail concept is the next step in connecting the mobile into the physical retail world.”

Burberry and Tencent have created an immersive shopping experience that lets you explore in person and online. At the entrance to Burberry Open Spaces is an interactive window which responds to body movement and the WeChat programme allows customers to unlock exclusive content such as audio guides, one-to-one appointments, table reservations and upcoming events. All the clothes are labelled with QR codes, which show product information on the customer’s phone when scanned.

Each customer also receives a digital animal character that evolves the more they interact with the space, with new characters and outfits to discover. All of the customers’ personalised experiences can then be shared on their social media networks.

Jacobs added: “The data gleaned will also allow Burberry to continue to optimise its physical stores, using insights in terms of popular products and browsing habits to improve the flow and layout of its stores.”

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