Burberry’s Social-Retail Store Brings teamLab-like Fun to the Boutique Experience

View of Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.
Fitting rooms of Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.
Thomas’s Cafe in Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.
QR code which offers extra content and stories is attached to products in Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.
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Animal avatars, interactive digital sculptures and secret spaces are just a few of the facets that make this concept unique and exciting. 

TEXT: Christina Ko
IMAGES: Courtesy of Burberry

View of Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.

 

Brick-and-mortar retail may be taking a hit across the world this year, but that hasn’t stopped British luxury label Burberry from forging ahead in its typical, innovative fashion, partnering with Tencent to open its debut “social-retail” store in Shenzhen, a concept intended to meld the physical retail model with interactions borrowed from social media.

But just what does that mean, exactly? In the words of Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti, it’s “a place of discovery that connects and rewards customers as they explore online and in store.” In a sense, the idea turns the typical boutique experience into something of a teamLab exhibition, which is a smart move, given the digital design collective’s remarkable ability to enrapture the masses with interactive displays that involve the viewer and create social-sharing opportunities that instantly magnify the artist’s reach and name recognition.

The new shop, which opened 31 July at MixC shopping mall, also breaks up the shopping experience into multiple themed zones, each involving different manners in which customers can play and explore. At the shop’s entrance, an interactive store window takes the viewer’s shape as a starting point to create unique visual moments that can be captured and shared. Fitting rooms are themed, with exclusive playlists that align with the subject matters “Animal Kingdom”, “Reflections” and the Thomas Burberry Monogram”; and can be pre-booked via the exclusive shop app.

 

Fitting rooms of Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.

 

While downloading a Wechat mini-programme just to shop a single boutique might not seem that exciting, the gamification of the shopping experience makes it well worth the effort. Customers can earn points that unlock rewards that range from exclusive menu items in the on-site Thomas’s Cafe to character and outfit upgrades for the animal avatar each user is assigned upon joining—no doubt playing on the popularity of Animal Crossing, but one-upping it by including characters such as Burberry’s iconic fawn.

 

Thomas’s Cafe in Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.

 

One of the exclusive experiences that can be unlocked by earning “social currency” points is access to The Trench Experience, an interactive space that tells the story of Burberry’s heritage, and is of course rife with opportunities for customers to create personal content that can be shared (thus earning VIPs that much-craved real-world social currency: street cred).

“I am fascinated by the balance between nature and technology, and the energy that connects the two. This store explores this relationship,” says the maison’s Chief Creative Officer, Riccardo Tisci. So don’t just think of this as just a museum concept mashed up with a boutique. On the swing tag attached to each product is a QR code which offers extra content and stories about the product, bringing the best part of online shopping into the store, but also subtly infusing customers’ minds with the codes and stories that make up Burberry then and now.

 

QR code which offers extra content and stories is attached to products in Burberry’s new Shenzhen store. Image courtesy of Burberry.

 

It makes sense that, in a year in which simply going to the mall might seem like a momentous occasion, Burberry is putting its signature innovation into driving the retail experience forward. But with travel severely hampered, the more important question now for all of us is, when is the brand opening one of these near you?

 

 

 
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