Apple has been working with Burberry on a new chat service called "R Message" that integrates with the luxury fashion retailer's internal iOS app and allows store associates to directly communicate with customers.
Vogue Business reports that the service, now being piloted, will be invitation-only and is designed to enable staff to chat with "high-value" clients via Burberry's internal app, known as "R World."
The idea is that R Message will essentially integrate Burberry's internal system with its customer-facing app, allowing shoppers to book in-store appointments, receive personalized item recommendations, and buy products more directly.
The benefits for sales associates are said to include tight integration with the company's back-end inventory system, which will let staff check stock and drive sales. In addition, a Newsfeed-style feature will keep them up-to-date with company updates, advertising campaign images, and press mentions to encourage regular usage and foster client relationships.
"You've got highly skilled associates who know how to serve in a luxury way, but even for a great associate, there might be 10 per cent extra that you can give them by giving them the right information at the right time," says Mark Morris, Burberry's vice president of digital commerce. "[Customers] now know much more about what they want… and to be at that service level where you can give credible advice, you need the basics."
The service is broadly reminiscent of Apple Business Chat, which Burberry already uses, but rather than go through iMessage, in this case the business-client communications obviously take place within the retailer's own app.
The Apple-Burberry partnership doesn't come as too much of a surprise, as the two brands have maintained close ties over the years. The British luxury retailer used Apple's iPhone 5s to capture its 2014 runway show, which Apple promoted in kind. Burberry was also the first clothing company to debut an Apple Music channel. And Apple's former retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, was of course CEO of Burberry prior to her stint with the tech giant.
According to Vogue Business, the R Message service will support Apple Pay and is set to be piloted at Burberry's Manchester flagship store before being rolled out to all 431 global locations and 6,000 associates.