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The store of the future: The social retail store

In July 2020 in the UK e-commerce represented 32% of the retail sale, compared to less than 15% of February 2020 (Pre-Covid 19).

Some parts of UK cities have become ghost town, with several store close, few shoppers and dark clouds for anyone that need to pay a rent for his/her shop at the end of the month.

Luxury brands, have not been immune from the closure of the high street and the very slow re-opening, with companies like Burberrys, Kering and LVMH reporting a decline of revenues between 30% and 50% in the second quarter of the year.

Those companies need to re-invent the stores, because while its online presence its growing, the margins are often lower that the offline sales and they face a huge risk by the growing power by marketplace platforms like Farfetch.

One example of the future of the store is the recent collaboration between Burberrys and We Chat owner Tencent.

The company is unveiling a futuristic new retail concept in Shenzen, China fourth most populous city. The partnership billed as “luxury first social retail store” build upon some of the interactive element originally installed in Burberrys flagship store in Regent Street.

The store has been inspired by gaming. Visitors can download and create a profile on a WeChat mini program, through which they can gather “social currency” to evolve their animal character and unlock experiences in the store.

Social currency is also awarded for scanning the QR code on product tag to pull up further item information, or gibing the brand a like, that will allow the users to unlock new content in the app as well as hidden menu items at the store inhouse café.

The store has also been embedded with interactive elements that don’t require an app, including what Burberrys describe as a ‘living sculpture’, an interactive screen that reflects visitors body shapes and respond to their movements. To widen its reach, the mini programme also include contact and challenges users can complete without stepping foot in the store.

The hope for Tencent is that users will share these experiences on WeChat, thus generating social media impressions and valuable data for the brand and positioning Burberrys as an innovator among Chinese shoppers considering that China represents 40% of the fashion company business.

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