Luxury fashion platform Farfetch has announced a partnership with Chanel to work on the “boutique of tomorrow”, using Farfetch’s Store of the Future omnichannel platform, in a deal which has resulted in Chanel taking a minority stake in Farfetch.
The partnership will see the two businesses collaborate to enhance the experience in Chanel boutiques and online but it will not involve Chanel moving into e-commerce. The first fruits of the project, which has been dubbed “Augmented Retail”, will be unveiled in a French Chanel boutique later this year.
Chanel president of fashion Bruno Pavlosky said the move was not about Chanel changing its strategy but increasing further the focus on its strategy of putting its boutiques, and the high level of service and experience within them, at the centre of its business. He also said the new generation of consumer was more demanding when it came to retail expectations.
“[…] we believe that with the new generation of customers coming, and with the development of digital, it was the right time for Chanel to start to think and to find the best way to anticipate and to enrich the service by using some digital tools,” he told WWD.
Farfetch founder, co-chairman and CEO Jose Neves said: “It is truly an honour to be partnering with Chanel to accelerate the development of technology-driven initiatives which will ensure they remain at the forefront of retail excellence and elevate the already unparalleled level of luxury experience for its clients that Chanel is renowned for.”
Farfetch unveiled its Store of the Future initiative in 2015 and acquired London-based luxury retailer Browns to use as a test-bed for its technological developments. Last year it unveiled Browns East in Shoreditch, London which features many of the Store of the Future developments, as well as features of the Browns Nomad project, which aims to tailor boutiques to their local environments.
At a summit in London last year, called FarfetchOS, the business unveiled more details of the capabilities of Store of the Future to brands and retailers from around the globe. The platform blends the worlds of online and offline and equips retailers with a 360-degree of a consumer’s behaviour across channels with features such as digital check-in in-store, the ability to add to wish-lists in-store, smart fitting rooms and mobile payments.
No details have been released yet of how Chanel will employ the technology, which retailers can customise to suit their own needs. But Pavlosky has suggested it will use it to understand better the behaviour of its global customers, who spend a lot of time travelling, in a bid to personalise the retail experience.
In addition, no details were released of the financial arrangement between Chanel and Farfetch, nor how much of a stake Chanel has taken in Farfetch.
This is the second major partnership that Farfetch has signed in the past week. Last week it unveiled a global ecommerce partership with British luxury house Burberry, which will result in the full Burberry product inventory being made available on Farfetch. In addition the pair collaborated on a new “Store to Door” initiative in which Farfetch sold certain items from Burberry’s London Fashion Week show on Saturday immediately after the show had finished. In theory this meant that some customers in London could have received items from the catwalk within 90 minutes of seeing them.
Also it is not the first time a partner of Farfetch has taken a financial stake in the company, which is reported to be gearing up for a float in New York this year. Last year the business signed a partnership with China’s largest retailer JD.com to give brands access to the fast-growing Chinese market. As a result of that deal JD.com became Farfetch’s largest single shareholder. At the start of this month it announced a joint venture with Chalhoub Group in the Middle East in a bid to create the leading luxury platform in the region.