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Burberry Lights Up Michigan Avenue

Burberry’s newest flagship, clad with its signature tartan check glowing façade, has been open on Michigan Avenue for two months now and Chicagoans, and tourists alike, are excited about its grand arrival. Standing at five stories high and approximately 16,800 square feet, 633 N. Michigan Avenue boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Burberry apparel, cosmetics, footwear, handbags, small leather goods and accessories available in the US.

Why would Burberry choose Chicago for its glittering store? Chief Creative Director, Christopher Bailey, explained his appreciation for Chicago – “It’s a very artistic city, yet it’s also a real business city. It’s an imposing city, yet one with a lot of green space and an attention to outdoor sculpture. Chicago feels like a place where there’s an admiration for something that has a long heritage, and that of course appeals to us.” In addition to Burberry’s statement flagship, Michigan Avenue’s NikeTown also received a much needed face lift in 2012, adding to the allure and excitement of the Magnificent Mile.

As we walked effortlessly throughout the labyrinth of intimate rooms, we felt that we were in someone’s home rather than in a flagship store. This level of intimacy is critical in gaining the type of trust that a customer needs in order to purchase a $38,000 crocodile tote bag. Perhaps the most notable room houses the iconic trench coat. Burberry excels at the art of showcasing a single product in multiple iterations, while still maintaining a clear focus. There were no less than forty different styles of the trench, yet the intimate setting created a sense of calmness among the feathers, studs and bows. Indeed, even the small leather goods and accessories were displayed in merchandised boxes that resembled a personalized gift rather than a display.

Chicago’s Burberry is a far cry from the brand’s mid 1800′s roots, complete with digital touch screens and live footage from runway shows playing on large screens throughout the store. To keep their chic children occupied, the children’s section features four touch screen drawing stations to keep them busy while their parents are free to buy, buy, buy.

Each associate is armed with his or her own iPad complete with the ability to report item availability for any store. This advancement has significantly reduced the amount of time that associates spend in the backroom, as well as customer wait time. Indeed, the iPad also serves as a mobile checkout counter for increased speed and convenience. We spoke with an associate about his new iPad and he raved about his improved ability to provide personalized service by being able to email clients photos of new products at anytime and respond without being locked to a stationary computer.

We hope that Burberry will light (literally) the fire under other retailers on Michigan Avenue and around the world to be creative and play to their own brand’s iconic strengths.


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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