This week marks the dawn of a new era of shopping for Burberry's high-end clientele, which could potentially change the way we all shop in the future.
VIP customers will now be able to text Burberry's in-store staff directly, who in turn will be able to access information such as birthdays and shopping habits (although customers can opt out of this) to make the experience as tailored as possible.
Through the direct messaging platform - known as R Message - which employs many of the same features as Whatsapp (think read-message notifications and allowing you to see if the sales assistant is online or offline), customers will be able to have direct conversations with store assistants about products, be able to book in-store appointments, and purchase pieces they like directly through the app using Apple Pay. The system is first being rolled out in the Manchester store this month.
What 'R Message’ will look like
R Message will be connected to Burberry's successful existing customer app, R World.
“R World has been out for a year now and sits under the concept of using technology to augment human relationships," explained Mark Morris, VP of Digital Commerce at Burberry. "We are moving away from technology being something in store that’s just there for experience and making it into something useful to enhance the customer’s relationship with Burberry.”
The British fashion house believes that understanding the behaviours of its key clients is vital for a good sales experience and, recognising that many customers now prefer the online experience to the in-store one, they expect the new app to be well received. Morris added: "There are so many technology trends, but messaging is appropriate for luxury as it’s intimate. It goes back to the core purpose of luxury being a relationship between the customer and Burberry."
Apple said in a statement: "This is the latest development of how Burberry uses iPhone and iOS to provide the best possible customer experience. Burberry worked with Apple to build digital solutions to revolutionise how Burberry provides its customers with a seamless luxury experience and build stronger relationships.” Sales associates can also use a back-end inventory to find similar products their VIP clients would like.
A Burberry Sales Associate Using the App
Burberry has a long-standing affiliation with Apple, and were early adopters of their technology in store.
“Burberry and Apple have had a close relationship for several years and we are built on a similar mindset of creative- and design-led philosophy,” says Morris. The brand proudly started using iPads in stores to make payments early on, allowing a more fluid customer experience, and dispensing of the traditional tills. “We started off many years ago with having iPads in store, to taking photos on the latest iPhone during our fashion show and we have been launch partners on things like Apple Pay. This project was the next natural step.”
Luxury brands are increasingly prioritising the digital experience. Amazon has discussed introducing VR for its online shoppers; brands such as Mulberry and Farfetch have created their own apps for sales reps to take stock and look up inventory; and in the United States, Coach recently introduced 'WeChat' in order to message its customers directly.
The technology has been years in the making with Apple, and although you won’t find it in the app store (it’s currently invite only) Burberry explains there is no “minimum spend” - customers invited are based on organic relationships and who is invited is left up to the discretion of the store. Burberry is planning to extend ‘R message’ in due course to their 430 global locations.
From Harper's Bazaar U.K.