Will Apple’s texting tool create more personalized shopping experiences at Burberry?

Discussion
Source: Burberry mobile app
Sep 09, 2019
Tom Ryan

Burberry has partnered with Apple to roll out a new chat service, which will allow its high-value and mobile-first customers to text directly with store associates.

Called R Message, the invite-only tool connects Burberry’s R World internal app for associates to its customer-facing app. Invited customers can text to make in-store appointments, receive personalized recommendations and purchase products.

Associates can also use the app to access real-time inventory data and a newsfeed with company updates, advertising campaign images and press mentions.

With selling floor associates often set in their way, the newsfeed is designed to motivate usage. Burberry said one reason for the tool is that digital-savvy customers often know more than associates.

“You’ve got highly skilled associates who know how to serve in a luxury way, but even for a great associate, there might be 10 percent extra that you can give them by giving them the right information at the right time,” Burberry’s VP of digital commerce Mark Morris tells Vogue Business. “Customers now know much more about what they want, and to be at that service level where you can give credible advice, you need the basics.” 

R Message is being piloted in Burberry’s flagship store in Manchester, England.

Surveys find text messaging growing in acceptance as a business communication tool for increasingly mobile-first consumers. E-mail is seen as outdated and lacking immediacy while phone calls are too intrusive. 

Businesses are using texts to handle appointments and alerts, such as letting customers know their table is ready at a restaurant or their car is ready for pickup. Nordstrom, Walmart and Rent the Runway are among other retailers that have been experimenting with chat to support shopping and style advice. 

According to the State of Texting 2019 report by ZipWhip:

  • Sixty-seven percent of people would rather use texting for appointments, reminders and scheduling than e-mail or phone call.
  • Seventy-four percent respond to business text messages within an hour.
  • When consumers need something from a business, the same 74 percent prefer to talk to a real person rather than a chatbot.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: In what ways is text messaging emerging as a shopping tool? Is in-store texting of customers compatible with the traditional customer-facing focus of associates?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I think key to this kind of capability is providing a way to connect directly between consumers and associates without violating the privacy of either group. "
"In my days as a luxury retail store manager, I imagine many of the clients I texted with would have balked had I asked them to download an app."
"In theory this seems like a good idea, but I wonder how quickly customers will tire of over-eager associates reaching out with unsolicited text messages…"

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Will Apple’s texting tool create more personalized shopping experiences at Burberry?"


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Nikki Baird
BrainTrust

I think key to this kind of capability is providing a way to connect directly between consumers and associates without violating the privacy of either group. Burberry tackled this by connecting one app to another, I assume in a way that masks the contact info of both the associate and the consumer. Also key to the success of an initiative like this is providing management and corporate visibility into the chats that happen – to make sure that nothing inappropriate happens from either side, and to learn from the best and most engaging associates, so that all associates can benefit (and shoppers too!).

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

In theory this seems like a good idea, but I wonder how quickly customers will tire of over-eager associates reaching out with unsolicited text messages…

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

While the texting tool itself may be a very good tool (for something), the idea raises the question of how distracted or more occupied associates will be if, in addition to spending time with live customers on the store floor, they are also approached from the outside by an uncontrolled, unpredictable stream of text messages. Were store associates hired to do this? Traditionally, in luxury retail, associates proactively contacted customers in their “little black book” during down time or before and after the store opened/closeed. The associate was in control of the timing and the frequency.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Text messaging creates a real-time bond between the associate and the customer. It really fits this type of high-end customer experience. The reality is that retailers do not overstaff and any tool that allows them to interact with the client virtually allows them to cover more ground. With a low velocity of high price point product you have fewer sales per day and more time to potentially interact with customers but customers can’t always be in your shop. This give both the customer and the associate the opportunity to save their most precious commodity which is time. This creates a more curated intimate relationship with a younger demographic that has disposable income.

David Dorf
BrainTrust

As long as the communication is initiated by the customer, and the customer doesn’t get bombarded by unwanted texts, it fills a need that can strengthen the relationship.

Stephen Rector
Guest

Text messaging is another great way to microtarget a brand’s core consumer. Most young people rarely answer their phone – so this just takes clienteling into the 21st century. We respond back via text for restaurant reservations and hair appointments, so texting is just the preferred form of communication at this moment in time. I think we will see a lot more of this from brands in the near future.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Bots handling appointments and “product ready to pick up” alerts are handy. Store associates texting customers enters the realm of subjectivity. Is it an annoyance or helpful? Burberry sells luxury products to a limited segment of the marketplace, as opposed to Nordstrom, for example, who sells many products to many. Texting as a shopping tool is dicey. It better be an opt in experience with a dedicated “personal shopper” the consumer actually knows, otherwise it’s a misuse of a customer’s personal information. The question? Where will it all end once store associates can freely contact customers at will? And to what purpose — the extra 10 percent?

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
5 days 21 hours ago

It’s great to see text messaging, now 25+ years old, “emerging” as a tool for retailers. The fact that it requires an app is not terribly time saving nor is it an easy – or the easiest – path for most customers. While Burberry was ahead of the curve with digital, we’ll see if this brings it back to a place of leadership.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

I agree that the app aspect of this is far from ideal. Luxury shoppers are often “in a hurry” and don’t want to get moved into some sales funnel. The magic of text is that there’s no download required and a shopper only has to put in minimal effort to communicate with the retailer. In my days as a luxury retail store manager, I imagine many of the clients I texted with would have balked had I asked them to download an app. That said, this may change over time and perhaps Burberry will be ahead of the curve.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I think key to this kind of capability is providing a way to connect directly between consumers and associates without violating the privacy of either group. "
"In my days as a luxury retail store manager, I imagine many of the clients I texted with would have balked had I asked them to download an app."
"In theory this seems like a good idea, but I wonder how quickly customers will tire of over-eager associates reaching out with unsolicited text messages…"

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