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Burberry's Fancy New London Shop Begs the Question: What's the Point of Flagships in the Era of E-Commerce?

Burberry's new London flagship, via <a href="http://us.burberry.com/store/experiences/regent-street/#/flagship/3">Burberry.com</a>
Burberry's new London flagship, via Burberry.com

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Burberry's new London flagship was unveiled this week in all it's high-tech dazzlement. Designed to resemble the brand's website, the store boats 44,000-square feet organized just like Burberry.com and merchandised according to Burberry's 13 different brands.

Business of Fashion stopped by between LFW shows and reports that beyond projected street-style imagery and music videos, there are museum-like brand exhibits, a "hydraulic stage" for cultural programming, monthly music gigs, and, the centerpiece of the in-store experience, a recurring "digital rain shower." "We've tried to choreograph it so that you have content specific to certain areas, but then all of a sudden the whole store turns into one rain cloud and makes you stop and smile," Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey told the site. "It's not just about shopping. The important thing for me is that when you go in, you feel entertained."

It's another example of how major retailers are integrating the online and in-store experience for customers. "Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online," CEO Angela Ahrendts said in a statement.

BoF points out that the store is less about shopping in the sense of purchasing clothing than it is about shopping in the sense of strolling around town with your girlfriend and popping into a boutique for fun. Quoting technology investor Chris Dixon, BoF writes:

"What most people agree on is that e-commerce as a whole will continue to grow rapidly and eat into offline commerce. In the steady state, offline commerce will serve only two purposes: immediacy (stuff you need right away) and experiences (showroom, fun venues). All other commerce will happen online."

All in all, the article raises the question: If shopping is no longer about buying stuff, how will stores compete with other leisure events like concerts, sports, and (might as well be honest) day drinking for your Saturday afternoon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

· Burberry's Bet on Retail Entertainment [BoF]
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· Burberry's Spring 2013 Collection Was Made for a Candy Addicted Caped Crusader [Racked]