Pieces from Burberry’s February 2017 fashion show are available for pre-order — that is, for those willing to interact with the brand on Facebook Messenger.
The brand woke up its Messenger bot for the first time since the holidays to send a push notification to Facebook users who have interacted with it in the past. The message read, in part: “Now live! Unlock our February 2017 show inspiration and pre-order pieces.” To unlock, users were prompted to enter the key emoji.
After that, users were presented a few options that Burberry’s bot said were indicative of a “new show experience”: They could browse through the show’s inspiration (British artist Henry Moore), shop items available for pre-order, preview the brand’s February 20 runway show and add a calendar remind, or start a live chat with a human Burberry team member.
The ability to pre-order pieces is a new addition to Burberry’s see-now-buy-now strategy for this year. Last February, the company announced that it would shift its fashion calendar to align with the seasons, opting out of fall and spring collections in favor of February and September collections. Items now on sale for pre-order are ones that appeared in the brand’s campaign preview, and are suitable for the transitional season of late February: a unisex cotton top ($425), a shirt dress ($1,195), a cable knit sweater ($950) and a trench coat ($2,095), one of Burberry’s signature products. To get accurate pricing and shipping information, Messenger users had to share their location with the Burberry bot.
The Burberry Messenger bot.
With its Facebook Messenger pre-order push, Burberry is quickening its see-now-buy-now pace to include those who can’t wait even until directly after the show to shop its products. The jumpstart on the in-season runway shopping trend also has a timely ship date: Orders submitted before February 17 are guaranteed to be delivered on the day of the Burberry runway show.
This isn’t the first time Burberry has pushed shopping on Messenger. Tied to its “Tale of Thomas Burberry” holiday video campaign, which reached 22 million last season, Burberry enacted its bot to share holiday shopping collections with users. A bot also appeared alongside its first see-now-buy-now show in September. To get mobile Messenger users to shop, Burberry has tied in Apple Pay to its mobile website. During its most recent earnings report, Charlotte Crowley, director of investor relations at Burberry, noted that incorporating Apple Pay on mobile saw significant lift in conversion, with mobile driving the majority of digital growth.
Beyond Messenger, Burberry — a brand that has embraced a digital-first strategy — has experimented with conversational commerce on platforms like WeChat, WhatsApp and Line. Under chief creative officer and former CEO Christopher Bailey (who will be replaced as CEO in June by Marco Gobbetti), Burberry launched a plan last June to restructure the business, when it announced that sales in 2015 had fallen overall by 8 percent. The turnaround included a strategy to cut a total of $144 million in expenses, grow past the expected luxury market growth of 2 to 3 percent in the next few years, and figure out how to monetize on its 44 million social followers.
That last piece — making money off of social attention — is something all brands have struggled with. Burberry’s advantage is that it has centered itself as a brand that is digitally driven.
“There are some brands like Burberry that will hop on new innovation first because it’s part of how they express themselves,” said Nadina Guglielmetti, managing director of social media at Huge. “Figuring out how to capture that data about your audience is next.”
Making select items available for pre-order could also help drive a sense of urgency leading up to a see-now-buy-now show, which Burberry first tested last year. During an earnings report in 2016, CFO Carol Fairweather said the company was pleased with the results of the initial rollout, but that sales weren’t largely impacted.
“I wouldn’t say it had a meaningful impact on the sales number in the quarter,” said Carol Fairweather, Burberry’s CFO during the company’s first half trading update. “I do think that we were really pleased with the response to the show across every dimension, be it brand reach, be it share of voice, be it magazine covers.”
Most recently, Burberry beat earnings expectations in the third quarter ending December 31. Retail sales climbed 4 percent to $903 million for the quarter, with comparable revenue up 3 percent.