Burberry and Tencent have forged an exclusive partnership to develop social retail in China.
“Social media is becoming such an important part of the luxury customer journey, particularly in the inspiration phase, and retail needs to keep pace with this,” said Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti announcing the move.
“Continuing our history of innovation, we wanted to explore the connection between these touchpoints by merging social media and the store experience to reflect the way luxury customers are engaging with brands. China was the obvious place to start as it is one of the leading hubs for innovation and technology and Chinese consumers are some of the highest users of social media.”
He said the customer journey between social media and the store experience is becoming more fluid. The partnership between Burberry and Tencent will merge social media and retail to create digital and physical spaces for engaged communities to interact, share and shop.
As the first step, Burberry will open a store powered by Tencent technology offering unique experiences that connect luxury customers’ social and online lives to their physical environments. This will serve as a laboratory to test innovation that can be expanded to the rest of the Burberry network in China.
The Burberry and Tencent social retail store will open in Shenzhen, China’s technology hub, in the new MixC Shenzhen Bay development. The store is expected to open in the first half of next year.
“This pioneering project is an example of the step-change in our ambitions for the next phase of our transformation,” said Gobbetti.
Tencent president Martin Lau said that by using cutting-edge technology, Tencent is committed to creating exceptional experiences for Burberry, consumers and society as a whole.
Davis Lin, the Tencent VP responsible for Tencent Marketing Solutions said the future of retail lies in digitalisation.
“Through more efficient online-to-offline connections, more personalised engagement and shopping experiences, along with exceptional, differentiated content and value-added services, we will enhance the customer experience and deepen brand loyalty.”
Chloe Collins, a senior retail analyst at GlobalData, said the Burberry and Tencent was another step in the fashion label’s social-first approach which has enabled it to celebrate double-digit growth in reach and engagement, as well as with Instagram and WeChat followers.
“Burberry’s Instagram content is inspiring and creative, and its clear shoppable links help drive conversion when consumer interest is at its peak.”
Collins said that of the Burberry and Tencent concept proves successful in China, Burberry should trial it in other major global cities, such as London and New York.’