With Shoppers Unable to Travel, Burberry Brings the (Virtual) Store to Them

    The virtual replica of Burberry's Ginza flagship in Tokyo gives fans of the label a chance to digitally browse and buy the company’s spring 2021 collection.
    Burberry's virtual Ginza store gives audiences the ability to browse the new collection and shop online while they're at it. (Image: Burberry)
      Published   in Retail

    Key Takeaways:#

    • Burberry’s virtual Ginza store is a smart use of content commerce to reach consumers unable to visit in real life.
    • The effort successfully weaves in content through a video collaboration with actress Elaiza Ikeda created by partner ELLE Digital Japan.
    • While tailored to Japanese audiences, Burberry’s shoppable virtual flagship is a concept that can be adapted worldwide by any brand.

    While vaccinations against COVID-19 are progressing around the world, international tourism remains largely off-limits for the time being. With this in mind, Burberry decided to step up its digital initiatives to bring one of its leading stores directly to the consumer. The British luxury brand recently partnered with ELLE Digital Japan to launch a virtual replica of its Ginza flagship in Tokyo, giving fans of the label a chance to digitally browse and buy the company’s spring 2021 collection.

    According to Burberry, the virtual store, which is open for “visits” through April 18, takes visitors on a tour across the three stories of the Ginza boutique. The ground floor offers signature bags such as the Olympia, the Pocket and the Lola, while the first floor features womenswear and the second floor stocks menswear and outerwear.

    Adding an additional element of content commerce to the mix is a video collaboration with ELLE Digital Japan, which resulted in five short films featuring actress Elaiza Ikeda sharing styling tips that are viewable at different touchpoints throughout the “store.”

    While the virtual flagship does not break much new ground from a technology perspective — the experience is akin to a 3D walkthrough on Zillow — it nevertheless represents another step in Burberry’s content-commerce strategy and could be a harbinger of what’s to come from other luxury brands. As we’ve seen in China, even when the coronavirus pandemic is brought largely under control, consumers will be slow to return to physical stores, particularly those who have embraced the convenience of luxury e-commerce.

    Burberry’s shoppable virtual store manages to approximate a glamorous trip to Ginza and may satisfy curiosity and offer a dose of escapism for those who have never been, not unlike the those 3D Zillow, which have provided a welcome distraction from lockdowns, while also enabling purchases of homes physically sight-unseen.

    And while Burberry’s virtual Ginza store is tailored to Japanese audiences, it provides a model that can easily be replicated globally, highlighting the scalability and shopability that defines effective content-commerce campaigns. Essentially, nothing is stopping Burberry from rolling out a virtual Regent Street flagship and a content collaboration with British partners. Already in China, Burberry has worked with Tencent to open a hybrid physical-digital store experiment in Shenzhen, where the Chinese tech giant is headquartered, and has deepened the relationship with the announcement of a partnership with its blockbuster game Honor of Kings. [Update: The gaming collaboration was abruptly called off by Tencent on March 25 amid a growing controversy over the positions of foreign brands on cotton sourced from Xinjiang.]

    With the world’s top luxury brands now becoming far more comfortable living in the digital world, whether through virtual skins (also by Burberry), virtual idols, virtual sneakers, or even debuting new collections in virtual formats, these futuristic content-commerce strategies are here to stay.

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