Fashion and Technology: Burberry Focuses on Resource Description as a Strategy for Growth

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The main reason we describe resources so we can organize them, refer to them, and interact with them. Burberry, British luxury goods maker, describes resources so it can reverse declining revenue trends and return to earlier levels of growth despite cooling in the lucrative Asian markets. Angela Ahrendts, the company’s CEO, is dedicated to a strategy of innovation and technology integration into Burberry’s sales and marketing model.

Burberry goes digital” published in The Economist on September 22, 2012 discusses Burberry’s plans to re-establish growth while keeping prices high. How would the company achieve this goal in a sluggish market? By attracting and retaining a new generation of tech-savvy “luxury lovers”. The company already utilizes advanced technology as an integral part of the sales process. For example, the flagship store in London is equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) interactive screens that display information about a garment and how it is made by flashing an item in front of the screen. The company now plans for further digitization and data utilization in its sales model.  It will start collecting and displaying customer’s purchase history on hand-held devices that can be viewed by sales associates and used to tailor shopping experience anywhere in the world. The company even played with some bold ideas to equip the stores with the sensors that could read which Burberry garment the customer is currently wearing and use this information to offer complementary pieces.

This is a great example of how resource descriptions and the interactions they support are used to re-engineer the traditional sales process to deliver an innovative service. What is especially fascinating is how Burberry is taking resource description to a whole new level in the fashion industry – putting it in the center of its strategic vision. The company is not only investing in carefully describing its resources (such as garments, shoes, accessories, small leather goods), but also in building interactions with these descriptions to enhance the sales process and set itself apart from the competition. I can only imagine how skillfully the company could present resource properties such as garment materials, construction, and design process to a customer through multimedia interaction such as videos, images, and written descriptions – all creating an enhanced marketing appeal and communicating the message of luxury shopping experience. Similarly, the company is collecting “descriptions” of its other key resources – customers themselves - in order to create personalized interactions between customers and sales associates anywhere in the world.
While some analysts are pessimistic about Burberry’s endeavors and think that the company should focus on what it does best – quality design and manufacturing, others affirm that this is a smart and forward-looking strategy that will ensure company’s growth into the future as the new generation of consumers who appreciate luxury are also acquiring sophisticated taste for high tech shopping experiences.