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Burberry and Tencent debut social retail store

Tyrone Stewart


British retailer Burberry has teamed up with Chinese tech giant Tencent to open a store which meets the physical world with the social media world. The ‘social retail store’ has opened in Shenzhen, China.

The opening of the store is the first step in a partnership announced towards the end of last year, where the pair made it clear that their intentions were to connect the online lives of the brand’s luxury customers to their physical environments.

“Together with Tencent, we have pioneered a new concept that will redefine expectations of luxury retail,” said Marco Gobbetti, Burberry CEO. “The first step in an exclusive partnership between our companies, Burberry’s social retail store in Shenzhen is a place of discovery that connects and rewards customers as they explore online and in store. It marks a shift in how we engage with our customers and we can’t wait to share this innovative experience with the world.”

The store is powered by Tencent technology, particularly relying on the hugely popular WeChat messaging platform. Through the app, customers can unlock exclusive content and personalised experiences, which can be shared across their social media. The dedicated mini program within the app also enables customers to take virtual store tours, learn more about products, access client services, make in-store appointments, register for events, and make table reservations at the in-store Thomas’s Café.

Each area of the store has its own concept, and all products are labelled with a QR code that connects to a digital screen, unlocking content and further product information.

In addition, those who engage regularly with Burberry will see their experience enhanced. Customers can earn social currency within the mini program, enabling them to unlock more exclusive content and personalised experiences, including exclusive café menu items. Each customer will also get an animal character to represent them, with new characters and outfits unlockable.

“Through the partnership with Burberry, we hope to provide our contribution in the upgrading of luxury retail, improving the quality of people’s lives, and promoting sustainable development, through which we hope to ultimately support maximizing the social value,” said Martin Lau, Tencent President.

Elliott Jacobs, EMEA Commerce Consulting Director at LiveArea
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.

The key behind a lot of this innovation is data. Tencent, owner of superapp WeChat which is central to this type of experience, has access to extraordinary volumes of consumer data, with millions of people using WeChat to interact with brands, search and browse products, share social media content and make payments.

Expanding the reach of these superapps into the physical world is another source of valuable data, which in-turn allows brands using the platform to tailor hyper-personalised content to their customers.

The data gleaned will also allows 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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