Nike mixes online technology with real-life shopping

Browse sneakers online and reserve them to try on in-store: Nike's vision of the future of retail.
4 December 2018

A Nike shirt displayed at a Nike store on September 14, 2018. Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

Buying online has its advantages for consumers, but some items, among them sneakers, are sometimes best purchased in-store: you can’t beat trying on a new set of footwear for fit and feel before parting with cash.

Nike’s new store in NYC opened November 15, and it offers consumers a mix between online ease and convenience, and the physical in-store experience.

With a free app, users can reserve a pair of sneakers online at home having browsed the latest lines. After making a choice and selecting the correct size, the chosen sneakers are placed in a locker in the store, ready for the customer’s arrival.

Dubbed ‘Speed Shop’, the in-store zone comprises lockers which can only be unlocked by the individual shopper’s app, at which point they can try on their chosen shoes, and if happy, check out via the Nike app without passing anywhere near the cash register. Or in the words of Nike’s senior creative director of global store design, Andy Thaemart, “they don’t have to go through the whole carnival ride”.

The Speed Shop in-store. Source: Nike”

Outside view of the new Nike store. Source: Nike











Found in its 68,000-square-foot flagship store, Nike’s Speed Shop is just one way the global sportswear brand is joining a new zeitgeist of retailers intertwining their online and offline experiences, as shoppers steadily become platform agnostic, driven instead by convenience, choice, and accessibility. The company’s chief design officer, John Hoke, affirms this. “Imagine the website, live. The future of retail is going to be less fixed, more fluid, and hyper-responsive to consumer trends and needs.”

“This is a great extension of an overall experience with Nike,” added Harry Chemko, the CEO of e-commerce company Elastic Path to Fast Company. “It blurs the lines between the digital shopping channels and the tangible nature of interacting with the brand in the store.

“I expect to see more and more branded manufacturers and retailers making investments like these to create a unique overall brand experience.”

As well as ensuring that the whole shopping experience in-store is as quick and convenient as possible, the Nike app’s users can also scan QR codes on the shop floor, which are located on the clothes displayed, for instance, on mannequins. Product details can then be reviewed onscreen and a request can be sent to staff, who will take the chosen item in the correct size to the fitting rooms, ready for the potential purchaser to try on.

Other experiences available via the app include the ability to change fitting room lighting, aimed at reproducing natural light, indoor lighting as found in the gym or, slightly more curiously, candlelight.

Of course, it’s unsurprising that for consumers, the convenience and experience come at the cost of personal data. Location-based aspects of the online/in-store experience rely on users allowing the Nike app access to the location services of their phone or mobile device. By default, location services remain on permanently, thus allowing the sneaker manufacturer knowledge perhaps beyond its requirements, oversight or not.