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Visitors to Burberry’s social retail shop see representations of pure luxury: richly appointed interiors, tastefully stocked with traditional and modern versions of the brand’s storied styles and patterns. The music is tasteful and subtle too, and just seeing the café, with its gleaming surfaces, is likely to spark anyone’s hunger. Of course, all these effects are happening through digital channels, as most shoppers are visiting this store by taking a virtual tour through the brand’s social media–enabled site.

The experimental operation relies on cutting-edge technological support from Tencent, the Chinese technology giant that maintains the popular WeChat social media site. The store formally is located in Shenzhen, though shoppers are everywhere in the world. Once they log in to the dedicated Burberry mini-platform on WeChat, the app hatches a cartoon avatar (really—the graphic shows a cute cartoon animal emerging from an egg) to represent each consumer. Then they can book shopping appointments and earn loyalty points. The more they shop and browse, the more points they earn, and the more personalized their avatar becomes. Soon it will be wearing preferred items and patterns, reflecting the shoppers’ favorite items.

If they are in proximity to the store, they can open the app to scan QR codes associated with each clothing item, as well as place an order at Thomas’s Café for tea or a light snack. But the music interludes and designs are available to anyone. Whether they enter the Trench room in person or through the app, shoppers encounter the uniquely curated playlist for that room.

Across all these sensory elements, the Burberry store thus aims to enhance the consumer experience and create a sense of luxury, no matter how they interact with the brand.

Discussion Question:

  1. How is Burberry leveraging technology to make its luxury offerings more appealing?

Source: Kong Wai Yeng, “Burberry Debuts First Social Media Store in Shenzhen Powered by Tencent Technology,” Options, August 14, 2020; “Open Spaces,” https://my.burberry.com/burberry-open-spaces-shenzhen/