New innovations unveiled this week by two fashion retailers bring the store and the digital still closer together.
Topshop aims to bring the “energy and excitement” of its Oxford Street store to a worldwide audience through a London Fashion Week catwalk partnership between Topshop.com and Facebook this weekend. Meanwhile Burberry aims to bring the convenience of the website to its new Regent Street store.
Topshop’s new ‘customise the catwalk’ feature was developed in partnership with engineers from Facebook. Viewers of the Topshop Unique Spring Summer 2013 London Fashion Week show will be able to click a ‘shoot the show’ camera button to capture, customise and share their favourite looks from the show. The show will be aired live (at 3pm on Sunday September 16) and on demand through Topshop’s Facebook page.
“This show is all about the customer and creating what we call ‘social entertainment’ around our product,” said Justin Cooke, chief marketing officer at Topshop. “We want to take the energy and the excitement of our iconic Oxford Street store to millions of people all over the world through Topshop.com. It’s social, it’s commerce and it’s entertainment all rolled into one.”
Viewers will also be able to order both the clothes and beauty products that feature in the catwalk show for early delivery. The Topshop site will have styling tips and tutorials that aim to replicate its instore nail bar experience.
"Fashion enthusiasts are sharing the things they love on Facebook now more than ever,” said Joanna Shields, VP and MD at Facebook. “This is where the conversation happens, it’s among friends and it’s where great brands need to engage. By by developing the innovative 'shoot the show' functionality with Facebook, [Topshop] are enabling millions of people globally to share their favorite moments instantly with their friends."
Over at Burberry, the emphasis is putting digital first – even in the store. In its new Regent Street store purchases are made sitting on a sofa, with the help of mobile payment point-equipped sales staff.
Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer at Burberry, told the Guardian: “We designed it like that because when you’re shopping at home online, you are on the sofa with your credit card. You don’t stand up and queue.”
The digital also comes into the store through RFID technology – chips embedded in clothing turn changing room mirrors into a screen that give more information about the garment, from catwalk images to production. High-speed lifts speed up the journey to the stockroom, so that sales assistants can rapidly supply the online-accustomed shopper with clothing in their size.
Our view: Both Topshop and Burberry are catering for a young audience for whom digital technology is second nature. In a fast-moving consumer goods environment, it’s natural that such retailers are early adopters and innovators when it comes to marrying the store and digital technology. But what’s new today will be mainstream before long – and retailers of all stripes will be keeping an interested eye on what’s happening here.