The close connection between fashion and online shopping is by now well established, and in fact has only been increasing year after year. People have many reasons for shopping online, mostly driven by having access to a wider selection of products and a more convenient shopping experience. The word “experience” is key here. As more and more high fashion brands move their operations into the digital realm, they are motivated to offer a unique experience with their brand in order to satisfy the masses. One of the most prominent examples of this is Burberry and their innovative new business model.
Burberry Blurring the Lines
Most high end designers present their latest collections on Fashion Week runways within the fashion calendar. However, as Business of Fashion points out in a recent article, Fashion Week was “a legacy” from a “pre-Internet era.” It was originally meant to be a closed event for those working in the industry – usually press and wholesalers – to be able to get a first look at the new designs for collections that hadn’t even been completed yet. However, as these events are now instantly shareable online, the entire consumer market now has access to this “first look” without having actual access to the designs. This creates a buzz over new collections without the ability to deliver them to an eager consumer base.
Burberry, however, is not conforming to this model. No longer adhering to seasonal lines, Burberry is able to create ready-to-wear designs that can go right from the runway directly to retail. Immediately after the new designs are shown, they are available to be purchased both online and in-store straightaway. What’s more, Burberry has taken their shows off the traditional Fashion Week runways, instead displaying their collections online in a digital runway video stream that is accessible by all. As Christopher Bailey, the CEO of Burberry, explains in an interview with Bloomberg:
“The changes we are making will allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves. From live-streams, to ordering straight from the runway, to live social media campaigns, this is the latest step in a creative process that will continue to evolve.”
Of course online promotion of their brand is nothing new. Many of the big designers and brands – as well as a variety of other successful businesses – are embracing the value of using online marketing tools to further their brand online, but Burberry is taking this to a whole new level. They are not only using their positon online as a promotional tool, but are harnessing the power of the online marketplace to connect with their consumer base. This creates a different kind of shopping experience and way to interact with the brand, and in turn driving retail sales.
The Secret to a Unique Online Experience
Of course Burberry isn’t the only brand offering a unique shopping experience and the ability to interact with a brand in a new way. The Secret Catalog is another great example which has unique shopping at the heart of the entire brand concept. Adrienne Antonson, the founder of The Secret Catalog, mentions in an interview with The Guardian that “there will be an emphasis on shopping experiences that are more personal” and that businesses “will try to craft interactions with customers that are customized and original.”
And customized and original it is! One look at the company website reveals a particularly intriguing business angle – exclusivity. The entire shopping experience is designed to give the feeling that the customer is a participant in an exclusive club. Anyone can access the website; however, you cannot see the products available to purchase unless you enter a passcode. Aside from exclusive access, the items themselves are all unique, one-of-a-kind designs sold on a first-come, first-served basis. It is unusual to come across such uniqueness and individuality in an online brand, when usually everything is mass produced and mass consumed. Finally, accompanying your exclusive access to shop the catalog, your membership also includes a physical print catalogue as well, which offers a tactile element to this shopping experience that isn’t usually present with online shopping.
Although one is an exclusive club and the other abides by an “available to all” business model, both of these brands are important to the future of fashion. After all, online retail is based on creating a unique shopping experience and delivering a personable brand interaction that customers can’t ignore.