Chanel planning to roll out its Farfetch Augmented Retail Experience project in new stores
Looks like the test drive of the Store of the Future fitting room that FarFetch helped dream up for Chanel is proving comfortable vehicle ride, since the house now plans to open three new examples in the first half of the year.
This state-of-the-art high tech dressing room, designed to create a seamless meeting of high-tech journey, boutique visit and personal shopper, would appear to please plenty of Chanel’s loyal clients, judging from a private demonstration this week.
“For me it’s the meeting of the retail excellence of Chanel and the digital excellence of Farfetch. They are convinced that luxury shopping will still happen in boutiques in 10 or 20 years. And on our side, we want to think of the clients of tomorrow, so we want to test this new client experience. It’s a test and learn approach,” explained a Chanel staffer who presented the project, but declined to be named.
Chanel signed an agreement with FarFetch in February 2018; softly opened the concept last April; and began giving its first peak to the press last month. At its heart are four fitting rooms on its second-floor Bel Etage, or airy Piano Nobile, of the new Chanel flagship at the corner of 19 rue Cambon and the city’s busiest high-end shopping thoroughfare, the Faubourg St Honoré.
First results are so good Chanel will roll the concept out in two of their own flagships in France, and in a Paris department store, targeted to open around end of June.
Though this new customer journey generally begins outside the boutique, since regular clients are given an app which allows them to pre-choose a runway or pre-collection looks and ideas from Chanel’s wide-ranging choice of accessories. They can then book an appointment, and their choices will be ready when they arrive. It’s designed to be a voyage through the Chanel dream. Shopping assistants are referred to as Fashion Advisors, and inside the fitting room, no price appears on the mirror. On entry, a high-tech mirror display starts to work. It displays all the choices, indicates their precise collection, and offers multiple angles of the accessories. Like Cinderella’s mirror, this one has a mind of its own. Should a personal shopper bring a new jacket into the room, a slim bar with a RFID, or Radio Frequency ID, detects the item and then displays that look from the original runway show, along with close up details and a video of a model wearing it on the runway.
The project is so innovative it doesn’t even have a name, Chanel and Farfetch staffers variously referred to it as "The Pilot," "The Fitting Room of the Future;" or even "Magic Mirror."
“Please don’t say it's a Magic Mirror. It is so much more than that! From the app to the journey. How about an Augmented Retail Experience?” said Sandrine Deveaux, head of Farfetch’s retail innovation business unit, Store of the Future.
“This was a very big moment for Farfetch, as Chanel is an amazing brand with which to work. We have similar visions. Making seamless technology to enhance the customer journey, and harnessing the power of the fashion advisors,” added Deveaux.
An element in the expansion will be adapting the technology to boutiques that have not such ample space as 19 rue Cambon. Farfetch has a unique agreement with Chanel, but will install this project when the famed big boutique it purchased in London, Browns, moves to a new site on Brooks Street.
Quizzed about how the pilot works, two Chanel fashion advisors admitted there had been learning pains with the technology, but that it granted clients a far broader vision of the brand and its products.
“One local client of five years vintage came for a belt. And, as the belt had been seen with many different looks in the show, I could show her different approaches to how it could be worn. Well, she ended up taking a twin set she had not considered before, after trying it on and playing with the image on the mirror,” she said.
Added Deveaux: “How to upscale customers from accessories to ready-to-wear was a big thing for Chanel.”
The project offers all eight Chanel collections, except haute couture, and includes two ready-to-wear seasons; two pre-colls; Métiers d’Art; Cruise; Coco Beach and Coco Neige, for skiing and après-ski and allowing customers to mix ideas from multiple shows and seasons. Fashion Advisors are also able to have direct access to Chanel’s stock, so know whether any item is available that day.
An NFC tag allows contactless payment, and when one tags it with your iPhone, the latest collection appears. Like the new pre-collection, starring Caroline de Maigret in tweed and chic Parisian timeless elegance. The app also allows one to zone in on any item and inspect that separate from the total look. So clients can easily make a wish list prior to a boutique appointment.
Chanel was mum about what effect Farfetch’s cabins has on sales, stressing the way it helps find the right choice for each individual. The app also contains a history of the brand – like Coco’s preserved original living room with its beige couch, baroque mirrors and Coromandel screens.
Roughly half of the customers at the mammoth 1,000 square-meter 19 rue Cambon boutique – the brand’s biggest in France – are tourists, even if many of them have shopped Chanel in their home countries. Mademoiselle Chanel’s living room is located five doors away, above Chanel’s historic flagship and design atelier at 31 rue Cambon, an 860 square-meter boutique. That boutique has no Magic Mirror.
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