Burberry tops L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Fashion with a strategy that prioritizes the mobile experience, innovation on social platforms, and a personalized shopping experience online and offline. As Chief Creative and Executive Officer Christopher Bailey told L2, the use of technology is a “fundamental and integral part of who we are at Burberry and it is central to our brand, our identity and our way of thinking.” In the past 18 months, the focus has been on Burberry.com (the fastest growing channel according to Bailey) and the mobile site. “We know our customers move seamlessly between our digital and physical world,” said Bailey.
Mobile has increasingly become priority for brands. In this year’s study, 95% of Fashion brands were mobile optimized and 84% accommodated mobile checkout. Brands that stood out in the Genius and top Gifted ranks went beyond mobile-optimized screens; they found ways to shorten the mobile checkout experience, with touches like Apple Pay. Cole Haan, for example, was able to reduce the number of clicks needed for mobile checkout from 15 to one using Apple Pay. These innovations have proven ROI as well. On an earnings call in November, Burberry reported its base of mobile shoppers had tripled after a site relaunched that improved checkout and payment tools at the end of 2014.
The best brands also personalize the online and in-store experiences, in some cases even connecting the two. Rebecca Minkoff, for example, records purchase intent by saving all items tried on in its virtual fitting room to site account. And Burberry – owner of the most technologically advanced brick-and-mortar store – has installed RFID into select apparel and accessories to trigger multimedia content on screens that are relevant to the products shoppers are browsing. The Regent Street store’s mirrors turn instantly to screens with runway footage and videos, featuring items consumers are trying on.
For Burberry, this in-store personalization is a continuation of marketing and presenting the brand to consumers. “We began by bringing digital technology into our stores to help tell the story of our products and our history to customers. That strategy has since evolved to a much more bespoke, one to one relationship,” Bailey told L2. As data collection techniques become more advanced and unobtrusive, the possibilities expand. “The more information that our customers choose to share with us, the more we are able to provide them with a service that is both unique and designed to improve their overall experience of us as a brand,” he said.
Yet Burberry, Rebecca Minkoff, and Stuart Weitzman (which records shoe size based on past purchases) are far ahead of the majority of fashion brands in personalization. L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Fashion reveals that just 8% of brands in the study inquire about a consumer’s preferences (men’s vs. women’s clothing) while 7% gather useful market research data for targeting purposes.
Adoption of new social platforms is another area in which Burberry excels at. As Facebook is becoming a pay-to-play platform offering zero organic reach, Fashion brands are finally feeling the effects. Interactions per post have declined by 46% since the first quarter of 2015, leaving brands in the Fashion Index to find a balance between publishing engaging content and deciding how much to invest behind it. Emerging platforms are more of an open road, allowing brands to find views and engagement for their content without a lot of spending. Burberry has been a pioneer on that front, being one of the first to join Periscope, Apple Music, and Snapchat. These endeavors have been successful; the brand recorded 100 million impressions for its live stream of the London in Los Angeles event at the Griffith Observatory. Burberry has the third largest share of voice on Instagram based on posts and interactions, accounting for 5% of the fashion brands’ collective voice on the platform. On Snapchat, Burberry offered a behind the scenes experience of a photoshoot with Mario Testino, leveraging the platform’s reputation as a place for imperfect and raw images (as opposed to Instagram).
“We see every social platform as unique and with its own exciting possibilities. We always begin by asking ourselves – if our audience is on a particular platform, or if we think they will be soon – how should we be there as a brand? The fundamental question is how can we partner with them in an authentic way, bringing excitement and newness to their experience on the platform. Creatively it was incredibly exciting as we were able to capture the energy and the rawness of Mario’s shoot and share the images the moment they were taken,” Bailey told L2.
Less than a decade ago, 80% of affluents could identify their favorite brand. That number has shrunk to 61%. This presents a stark reality for luxury brands in that the brand equity that took decades to build does not automatically transfer to digital, unless brands make certain effort to carry that over. And while the luxury market remains heavily fragmented offline, online has been a winner take all environment with as few as seven brands generating over half of all site visits. This suggests that unless brands invest in their online presence, they will lose sales to the few that do.