Booming Burberry! And we’re not just talking about the sheer size of the store, which challenges the Apple Empire down the road. We’re talking about the profound strategy embraced by Burberry to entertain each and every customer that walks into the flagship on London’s Regent Street.
The flagship is arguably the world’s most technically innovative store and the brand’s much-discussed need to integrate the digital and physical worlds has set a bar for retailers everywhere. But Burberry is by no means alone. Slick digital technology — including the use of virtual mirrors, digital screens, RFID chips and iPads — is fast becoming a feature of store environments across the pricing spectrum, from luxury flagships to fast-fashion emporiums.
What’s most impressive in the flagship, is the street style imagery and music videos from the brand’s marketing campaigns played on the store’s audiovisual system, attracting attention from consumers. Burberry have gone tooth and nail to make sure retail is a multi-sensory experience for each customer. And thank god! But most impressive of all was a dramatic ‘digital rain shower’ (weather is a major theme for the brand, best known for its trench-coats) that swept across the flagship, appearing on all of the store’s screens, from those in fitting rooms on the top floor to the soaring 22 foot screen in the main hall. It seemed that every shopper in the store stopped to experience the moment. And who doesn’t love the sound of rain? Right?
“We’ve tried to choreograph it so that you have content specific to certain areas, but then all of a sudden the whole store turns into one rain cloud and makes you stop and smile,” said Christopher Bailey, Creative Director Genius of Burberry. “It’s not just about shopping. The important thing for me is that when you go in, you feel entertained.”
Retail entertainment is at the very heart of Burberry’s new flagship. More than just a store for buying products, the flagship features museum-like brand exhibits and a veritable event space with a hydraulic stage and a full calendar of cultural programming, including monthly music gigs, soon to be announced. Absolutely genius, for the live music circuit for musicians is just a dive, so to be invited into an emporium like this store would be an absolute pleasure for musos to perform. Here here.
Outside fashion, cutting-edge companies like Disney and Apple have also turned their stores into places where people go to spend leisure time, not just to shop. But make no mistake, these experiences can ultimately generate significant commercial value.
“Time is the currency of all experiences,” wrote business guru Joseph Pine on the Harvard Business Review website. “And a very simple rule applies: the more time your customers spend with you, the more money they will spend now and in the future.”
What we find incredibly impressive from a business perspective, is fashion for customers is more about feel than science. Integrating a special moment, like the entire store stopping to hear and feel the rain, while holding onto a $5,000 trench coat could convert to a sale, because people want to feel special. They want to remember moments, and we are absolutely driven by emotion. Clever little birdies.
What’s more, as transactions move online, consumers will no longer need to visit physical stores simply in order to buy things. In a recent blog post, technology investor Chris Dixon wrote: “What most people agree on is that e-commerce as a whole will continue to grow rapidly and eat into offline commerce. In the steady state, offline commerce will serve only two purposes: immediacy (stuff you need right away) and experiences (showroom, fun venues). All other commerce will happen online.”