Burberry is using virtual reality in China to improve the customer experience. The company has launched a VR lounge in Shanghai that will allow customers to explore different aspects of the brand. This is an interesting move, and it will be interesting to see how it affects sales in China’s luxury market.
Virtual reality stores in China
When it comes to virtual reality, all eyes are on China. In fact, its market is developing much faster than elsewhere. In this regard, numerous stores offering a virtual reality experience have blossomed in China.
Smart technology and artificial intelligence are gaining ground in retail:
- On one hand, retailers see the store as a powerful source of consumer data, a community, and brand loyalty engine, and a distribution center for digital shopping.
- On the other hand, consumers are starting to embrace advanced technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, which increase efficiency and excitement during the shopping experience, making shopping a pleasant and social experience.
A few days ago, Burberry has launched a new concept of luxury stores in China which potentially points the way forward for in-store experiences in the future.
The store, leveraging the power of social media interactions on Wechat (the most used social media in China), allows interaction with Burberry products and the brand both digitally and in person. Through the WeChat app, digital interactions are introduced into the physical retail environment where customers can unlock exclusive content and personalized experiences through the WeChat mini-programs and share it with their communities.
Luxury fashion brands toward the social retail concept
In recent years, China has pioneered the adoption of mobile, from social media to mobile payments and in-store retail experiences.
Luxury brands that continue to rely solely on 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 to keep up with the needs of Chinese consumers.
And that’s exactly what Burberry did. In fact, Burberry’s concept of social retail is intended to connect mobile to the world of physical retail.
Burberry response to Chinese luxury consumers’ needs
The move comes as Burberry continues to invest in its digital channels following the shift in consumer behaviors stemming from Covid-19, with the luxury fashion brand experiencing a drastic drop in sales during the crisis.
The way Chinese luxury consumers interact with brands is changing: Social media has become an increasingly important part of the customer journey, therefore, brands must make the interaction between the digital and the physical world more fluid.
The creation of the Burberry social retail store in Shenzhen is his response to this change by taking interactions from social media and bringing them into the physical retail environment.
Wechat has helped this accomplishment as WeChat has access to extraordinary volumes of consumer data, with millions of people using WeChat to interact with brands, search for products, share content on social media, and make payments.
Expanding the reach of the WeChat app into the physical world will allow brands to use the platform to personalize content for their customers and continue to optimize physical stores, using insights into popular products and browsing habits to improve the flow and the layout of the stores.
Burberry’s social retail in Shenzhen
The store, located in Shenzhen, is an exploration space, designed to inspire and entertain luxury customers, where they can interact with the brand and product in new and exciting ways, in person and on social media.
Together with Tencent, the new Burberry store in Shenzhen reflects Burberry’s pioneering history of firsts and ambition to continue pushing boundaries through innovation and creativity.
The first luxury social retail store is a fundamental test case for the new way consumers experience the Burberry brand. The Shenzhen store is a place to test and learn, a space to experience innovation.
The 4 features of Burberry luxury social retail
The new Burberry’s first luxury social retail store in Shenzhen has 10 rooms and offers a truly interactive experience, with features including:
1. Burberry interactive showcase representing a living sculpture
Upon entering the Burberry store, customers encounter an interactive window, where they discover the first digital experience: A living sculpture, inspired by the mirrored runway of the Burberry Fall / Winter 2020 Memories fashion show. The digital experience creates a unique moment that can be captured and shared with friends.
2. Products QR codes that connect to digital screens
The Shenzhen store is the first Burberry store to include scannable QR codes on all products. Here, all products are tagged with QR codes that connect to digital screens, further enhancing the in-store experience: Scanning the QR code unlocks additional content and product storytelling within the mini-program and contributes to the creation of social currency.
Additionally, customers can find the latest Burberry collections, and seasonal products and discover exclusive pieces available only for purchase in the Shenzhen store.
3. Thomas’ Café – A space for the Burberry community to connect
Thomas’s Cafe is named after founder Thomas Burberry. The design of the cafe is inspired by the creative codes introduced by Riccardo Tisci. Burberry’s nature and animal kingdom are present throughout the space and can be seen in the prints on the wall, as well as in the dinnerware.
The menu instead celebrates English and Chinese tea culture with playful and modern fusion elements. The peculiarity and the encounter with digital are that the bar menu can evolve as customers interact with the WeChat mini program and their social currency advances, unlocking new menu items.
In conclusion, the café is conceived as a community space for activities including lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and live performances, with reservations made through the mini program.
4. Booking fitting rooms via Wechat mini program
The storehouses three fittings rooms, each with its own creative concept, drawing on Burberry’s house codes:
- the Burberry Animal Kingdom,
- the Thomas Burberry Monogram.
The fitting rooms are designed to celebrate the experience of trying on Burberry product and each has a dedicated library of playlists to listen to. Customers can pre-book their preferred room via Wechat mini program.
The new store offers a unique interactive experience for Chinese customers
The store is made up of a series of spaces that customers can explore, each with its own concept and personality that offers a unique interactive experience. It also encourages strong interaction with the Burberry brand and its history.
Thanks to the exclusive partnership with Tencent, Burberry takes interactions from social media and introduces them to the physical retail environment. Within the mini-program, customers can earn rewards via Burberry’s social currency feature, unlocking exclusive content and personalized experiences.
In fact, the social currency is the thread that binds the rooms together, providing a seamless online and offline experience.
The more the customer interacts with Burberry, the richer their experience becomes:
Each customer is assigned a playful animal character that evolves as they engage in the store and on social media, with new characters and outfits to discover. Rewards range from exclusive café menu items to mini-program content.
Wechat mini-programs enhance consumers experience and brand loyalty
Through ongoing efforts that drive technological progress, Tencent has been committed to providing better products and services to Burberry and its consumers. Through the partnership with Burberry, Tencent will form its contribute to the improvement of luxury retail, improving people’s quality of life, and promoting sustainable development and maximization of social value.
Together with Tencent, Burberry has pioneered a new concept that will redefine the expectations of luxury retail. Burberry’s social retail store in Shenzhen is:
- a place of discovery that connects and rewards customers as they explore online and in-store,
- a change in the way the brand interacts with customers.
The mini-program is a digital companion created to improve the way customers experience the store, whether they are physically or virtually. Through it, customers can:
- access features such as shop tours,
- learn about products,
- book in-store appointments, events, and table reservations in Thomas’s Cafe.
The virtual reality store: the future for luxury brands in China
Through connecting social and retail environments, Burberry’s first global social retail store in Shenzhen will create innovative digital services and delightful experiences for our users, help brands build deep emotional connections with consumers, and support the laying of strong foundations for the long-term growth of brands.
Other brands should definitely develop these kinds of features to adapt to the needs of Chinese consumers and remain competitive in the market.
These new types of stores are highly appreciated by consumers and are becoming increasingly important and functional for brands.
If you want to know more about how to use these features and stay competitive in the Chinese market, please contact us. GMA is a digital marketing agency, specializing in the Chinese digital market.