Hublot today unveils a new digital shopping program called the “Digital Boutique.”The concept is intended to be “something between a physical visit to the store and an e-commerce purchase experience,” according to Hublot chief executive officer Ricardo Guadalupe.It entails consumers booking a digital appointment on Hublot’s web site. They then log into the interface via Skype or FaceTime, and are greeted by a Hublot salesperson streaming in from the brand’s New York flagship. Rather than a typical video chat screen, though, the salesperson can share the screen with 3-D animations, informational videos and high-resolution photos to better illustrate the timepieces being considered.This technology requires a substantial technical install at the Hublot store, including high-definition cameras, lighting and touch-screen computers.The Digital Boutique technology, built by Stockholm-based firm B-Reel, has been launched in New York to cover the U.S. market.“I think the U.S. is more mature in its understanding of a digital experience. The idea is to go into this world, so you are not just on e-commerce and clicking to buy a $20,000 watch. We want to give more of an experience,” said Guadalupe.“The U.S. market is well adapted to this kind of project, the country is big so many consumers are not able to come to New York to shop. The idea is to give access to consumers, wherever they are in the country,” he added. Guadalupe declined to reveal sales projections for the program, preferring a wait-and-see approach.Much like how Hublot’s New York flagship will serve as its Digital Boutique centrifuge for the North American market, the program’s next installment would be implemented at its Hong Kong shop to tend to the Asian market. In China, Hublot plans to involve WeChat in the program.B-Reel, a digital think tank and creative agency, worked for 18 months on the project. Its managing director, Jesper Kling, said “We expected to find a solution in the market for what Hublot requested and found nothing; we had to build this from scratch.”Kling says that if the Digital Boutique proves successful, it could set a new paradigm for luxury online retailing. “We have not seen this level of quality before in term of rich content. It’s more or less a translation of going into the store and getting service that is expected from a luxury brand, it lends itself to high-price items,” he said.
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