Burberry’s success boosted by digital transformation

Written by Martin Hermsen Comments 0

Burberry – the high-end fashion brand and retail chain – has posted record results, aided by an advanced digital transformation. That effort was begun eight years ago by former CEO Angela Ahrendts, now the retail boss at Apple.

The transformation is the latest in a series of high profile technology-based changes in the fashion industry, including extensive work at companies such as Harrods and Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.

Burberry’s pre-tax profits for the year to 31 March rose eight per cent to £461million ($777 million), on the back of revenues of £2.33 billion. The London-based company’s eight-year turnaround has been focused on improving efficiency and unifying its brand globally, and the company has worked extensively on transforming its web and digital in-store experience.

The Burberry Transformation

Burberry’s advanced adoption of technology, being a company rooted in tradition, has been notable. A business wide roll-out of SAP enterprise resource planning helped the company with an efficiency program that saved it over £50 million in recent years. The program was aimed at improving in particular the supply chain and logistics, including its distribution hubs, as well as ensuring it had a better visibility of inventory. Additionally, a number of technology improvements helped to design store layout. The company has also extensively used SAP’s in memory technology to run real-time analytics, and improve how it profiles customers.

Front office technology has also been vital to Burberry, as the company looks to blur the lines between digital and in-store. Retail staff can use tablets to create customer profiles and showcase products as well as their preferred choices. In fact, customer available iPads in store have helped increase sales conversion within its retail outlets. A focus on mobile commerce has also played a part. The company has focused on improving its social media profile, filming runway events and posting extensive video and photographic content on Twitter and Instagram.


Angela Ahrendts, now head of retail at Apple, spearheaded Burberry’s transformation when she was chief executive at the fashion company

The digital initiatives were spearheaded by Ahrendts, until her departure in April – and Burberry chief technology officer John Douglas (who arrived at the firm at a similar time to Ahrendts) made the ideas a reality.

Announcing today’s results, Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s new chief executive, said the company was “united and energised” by opportunities including “further integrating the physical and digital to deliver distinctive experiences”.


Luxury Brands And Technological Transformation

A number of other luxury fashion brands have taken similar steps to advance their position using technology. Harrods, the well known luxury retailer in London’s Knightsbridge, has overhauled its in store displays. The project, led by media sales director Guy Cheston, helps the company provide engaging in-store advertising: the displays are aimed at keeping the traditional feel of the store while effectively catching the attention of the customer traveling between departments.


Harrods is the latest luxury retailer to transform its in-store experience with digital technology. Pictured here is one of many new super-high resolution stairwell displays at the flagship Knightsbridge, London store (Image copyright: Make Architects)

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy’s chief information officer, Pierre-Albert Carlier, has spoken of how the company’s Chaumet jewelry stores use advanced visualization technology to help customers effectively assemble their own rings, matching the weight, cut and colour of a diamond to a ring of their selection – choices that are automatically passed on to the company’s craftspeople to create.

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