London Fashion Week has once again highlighted the relentless convergence between retail and technology.

Burberry, in particular, hit the headlines after teaming up with Twitter to launch a ‘click-to-buy’ button on the social media site.

But Burberry is no stranger to the idea of merging technology with fashion – the luxury retailer pioneered live streaming fashion shows and has enabled customers to order garments straight from the catwalk. It even has its own social media site, called Art of the Trench.

Social media is also allowing brands to connect with consumers who are unable to attend their live shows.

Topshop, for example, used Facebook and Instagram to create a ‘social catwalk’ where users have exclusive access to looks before they appear on the catwalk.

Using social media in this way can provide retailers with an extremely effective way of driving brand awareness amongst consumers – and at a very low cost

However, innovations such as these are about more than just relationship-building: they can also encourage customers to buy on-trend items.

Burberry’s click-to-buy button on Twitter, for example, enables customers in the US to purchase nail colours worn by the models simply by using a tweet.

Customers can also now buy six of the items featured on Topshop’s catwalk at the retailer’s flagship store in Oxford Circus, as well as online.

Clever developments of this sort provide clear evidence that retailers at both ends of the price spectrum are adapting their sales techniques to fit consumers’ changing buying habits.

Even though many retail businesses have mastered the first step of providing a good online service for customers, the focus is now on experimenting with ways to wow customers with the latest technology and engage with them via the latest social media trends.

As a result, the line between technology and retail continues to blur, with many retailers now working on ways to develop the consumer experience through greater innovation.

However, in order to ensure that there is a strong link between the latest retail technology and return on investment, it’s essential that retailers focus their efforts on the high-tech experiments that will actually generate sales.

The campaigns organised by Topshop and Burberry are both very interesting because they not only show how to engage with customers, but how to get money in the till.

  • Dan Coen, director, Zolfo Cooper