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H&M opens a new miniature flagship in the heart of Berlin, blending physical and digital shopping with a carefully curated, tech-led and customer-centric shopping experience

The retail industry has been in a state of change over the last several years, driven by changing expectations of the customer, and leading retailers are increasingly looking at how technology can help enhance the customer experience. H&M Mitte Garten is a brand new shopping experience opening today in Berlin which was developed by H&M Laboratory in collaboration with Microsoft, AKQA and Turnpike, specifically to meet those evolving demands. The new H&M store is a splendid example of this – putting technology in the hands of retail employees to increase customer service.

Microsoft’s involvement ensures the new flagship is built on top of the latest cloud services, but H&M Mitte Garden is definitely not ‘tech for the sake of tech’. In fact, the complex backend wizardry is unnoticeable to customers and staff, having been designed and integrated with an obsessive focus on delivering more responsive and engaging customer service. Despite its small footprint, customers will find ample inspiration and the complete H&M fashion line on new, digital assortment tables. Beautiful in form and function, the tables use Microsoft Surface Studio 2 to seamlessly integrate digital experiences with the store’s unique design.

H&M wants technology to give their ambassadors a virtual sixth sense for detecting customer needs and make every physical meeting the best it can be. To help realize this goal, the new solutions in this store were designed to build a connection between customers, front line staff, corporate employees, and leadership. Through an internal app built on Microsoft Teams & PowerApps and accessible via fashionable connected bracelets, H&M ambassadors will receive the latest styles and trends, advice or best practices, and tactical information like scheduling, empowering them to deliver best-in-class service. Through the app these frontline workers can also connect with other employees and management with questions or concerns from customers, share best practices, and feedback on special offers or initiatives.

And with strategically placed help buttons, screens, and sensors throughout the store, no customers need for help will go unnoticed. Democratizing digital means empowering frontlines workers with a direct line to their peers and management around the world. The concept developer, Anna Bergare, said it correctly: “New retail doesn’t mean anything without empowered staff.”

The intersection of physical and digital shopping at H&M Mitte Garten represents the state of the art in retail. The new miniature flagship perfectly balances advanced technology-driven retail in the service of good, old-fashioned obsessive customer service.

H&M Mitte Garten