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MILAN — Gucci is unveiling a new luxury digital flagship today.

This story first appeared in the August 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

To mark the launch, the company is investing in an integrated marketing and communications plan, which includes virtual attendees at the brand’s fashion show in Milan on Sept. 22; hologram window displays; in-store iPad stations; a viral welcome video on the site, and an exclusive online accessories collection.

“The destiny of the digital flagship store is that it will become our highest-volume store in the world,” said president and chief executive officer Patrizio di Marco.

The Gucci site, which counts 2.5 million visitors a month and has been embracing social networking, has been relaunched with new technologies and content. Creative director Frida Giannini has been working on the site for 18 months, and it reflects the designer’s concept for Gucci’s flagships around the world in colors — gold, light beige and rosewood; textured materials, and product display. In addition, contextual videos and photos narrate the stories behind the products.

“Through the use of new technologies, I believe we have created a Digital Flagship destination, where our customers can truly experience the beauty, quality and craftsmanship of Gucci’s collections in a truly luxurious way,” said Giannini. “It is also very important to me that social networking capabilities are an integral part of the new site, as shopping for fashion is almost always an experience that is shared and enjoyed with friends.”

The site is iPad compatible. Giannini also focused on user friendliness and functionality, with horizontal navigation, which allows all available products to be presented on one page. A scroll bar showcases items in the 3-by-3 product display seen in Gucci’s brick-and-mortar stores and a zoom feature from multiple angles allows users to view the products inside and out.

On every product page, shoppers can click on links that directly connect them to relevant content — videos, news items or Gucci-wearing celebrities — from the “World of Gucci” area, where Giannini highlights the brand’s inspirations and heritage. This section comprises Gucci Forever, which focuses on the brand’s 90-year history; Gucci Now, which updates visitors on news, events and fashion shows; Think Forever, which spotlights artistic and environmental initiatives; Act Now, which highlights philanthropic efforts, and Gucci Connect, which includes distributed digital content. Links connect the site to Facebook and Twitter, or customers can express their approval by simply selecting “love” for a particular product or page.

“Gucci is a company with a deep respect for the past, but at the same time, with an eye firmly focused on the future,” said di Marco. “We see technology as offering a means to an end. It is not the end itself. The customer experience is what counts and what has to be the focus. With the ubiquity of broadband today and the widespread adoption of social networking, we have aimed to develop a rich and connected online experience that reflects the height of luxury and service one experiences when entering our flagship retail stores.”

The executive underscored how Gucci’s digital flagship is the final destination online, “whether you are seeking out Gucci through a search engine or are one of our nearly one million Facebook fans or are one of the over 600,000 people who have downloaded our Gucci app or are one of our 18,000 Twitter followers.”

To mark the opening, Giannini designed an exclusive collection of accessories available only online.

Designer brands from Burberry to Dolce & Gabbana have live-streamed their shows, but Gucci has added a twist for its spring show next month. Starting Wednesday, consumers will be able to sign up on to receive an e-ticket granting them access to the Gucci Connect E-vent. “The Gucci Connect initiative will play an important role in redefining fashion shows by integrating multiple platforms with video technology — online, social networking and event — thereby allowing larger audiences to experience the fashion show as one,” said the company. Gucci will allow users to share their live Webcam videos — online and at the Gucci show space — with assigned virtual seating at the E-vent.

In addition, the Gucci Connect E-vent Facebook app will allow virtual guests to create groups and compete for VIP seating at the E-vent. The VIP group will be revealed on Sept. 20 and will have its Webcams projected at the show.

Gucci launched its U.S. e-commerce site in 2002. The site operates in 17 countries in eight languages, while e-commerce is offered in 12 countries. The brand has more than 2,000 products available online.

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