New High-Tech Burberry Store Brings the Web to Life


Even the name of Burberry’s new London store sounds more like a video game than a flagship — apropos, given that Burberry World Live was designed to mirror the brand’s Web site.  That sounds funny at first, but the actual result is a comfortable, efficient space that demonstrates the company’s commitment to digital.

So, what’s different from a normal store?  To start, there are no cash wraps.  Customers making a purchase hang out on a couch and their packages, along with a credit card swipe machine, are brought to them — because it’s not like online shoppers have to line up when it’s time to pay.  Meanwhile, the clothes themselves are embedded with chips, readable by the store’s mirrors.  When trying things on, besides seeing their own image in the mirror (how 20th century), customers will also be able to view images of the original garment on the runway or see how it was made.  Otherwise, what would they do?  Look up the runway show on their smartphone?

All kidding aside, in offering this technology to help and entertain customers (and make headlines), Burberry makes itself a great example of an established brand co-opting innovations more typical of a tech start-up.  You might have heard about PickNTell, for instance, a cross-brand platform providing a service similar to Burberry’s new informational, in-store mirrors.  PickNTell seeks to bridge the gap between virtual and live shopping, just as Burberry’s new store combines the two.

Moving along, some of what the new flagship offers is more basic — iPads to entertain children in the kids’ department (sounds like the Apple store!), along with secret, high-speed elevators, hidden behind the shop’s panels, for salespeople to check sizes and fetch stock.  At 16,000 square feet, offering a few ways to get around the store seems like mere logic, but even cutting down on customers’ waiting time is a nod to the convenience of online retail.  After all, there one knows in a click whether a particular color is in stock.

Burberry Word Live sounds like retail Disneyland for adults, but with more plaid and fewer (or no!) lines.  Which brands do you hope adopt some of these tactics next?  Tell us in the comments.

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