Weeks after announcing record fourth-quarter revenue in North America, Nike is introducing two new retail concepts in Boston.
Last month, Nike Inc. reported fourth-quarter sales and earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, thanks in part to robust revenue in the influential North American market. For the quarter ended May 31, Nike’s net income jumped to $1.5 billion, or 93 cents per share, compared to a loss of $790 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier. Total revenue nearly doubled to $12.34 billion from $6.31 billion the previous year.
Despite enhanced competition in the athleticwear and sportswear categories due to the ongoing dressed-down trend brought on by the pandemic shutdown, Nike has continued to gain ground. In North America, Nike’s largest market, the brand boasted a record $5.38 billion in sales compared to a year earlier.
With two new Boston area locations — a small-format door in Chestnut Hill and a soon-to-open outlet store in Watertown — the sneaker giant is ramping up digital-driven experiences, novel devices and a range of services and products, including some specifically localized. The strategy is in line with what Nike president and chief executive officer John Donahoe announced in June of last year: the rollout of 150 to 200 small-format digital-centric stores in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the next several years. The plan involves creating more personal and localized consumer touch points to better serve consumers, according to the company.
A company spokeswoman was unable to respond by deadline Thursday to offer the current total store count in the U.S., the breakdown between of full-priced stores and outlets, or the number of stores that Nike closed in 2020. The company, for example, closed two of its three outlet stores in New Hampshire in the past six months.
At press time, she did not respond to a query asking which other cities Nike is planning to open similar stores in.
With the Chestnut Hill and Watertown stores, Nike has five mono-brand stores in the Boston area. The Nike app, the Snkrs app, the Nike Run Club and the Nike Training Club are other vehicles the sneaker giant is using to connect with local shoppers and athletes.
Known for its die-hard sports fans and numerous colleges and universities, Boston is prime territory for athletic companies. It is also home to Nike’s rival Reebok and New Balance. Both companies employ hundreds in the area, are big on supporting local sporting events and communities and have large home offices.
Nike by Chestnut Hill bowed Thursday. Geared toward women, the store offers services through the Nike app to encourage online or in-store shopping. The 5,300-square-foot store has an assortment of apparel and footwear that has been selected based on what is popular with women in the neighborhood. Those who want special attention perusing the yoga, bras, leggings and other merchandise can arrange for a bra fitting or styling session.
Shoppers can also take advantage of the brand’s buy online, pick up in store and curbside experiences to speed up things for purchases made online or via the company’s app. There is also free store pickup for eligible orders.
Chestnut Hill shoppers can also use the Unlock Box, a digital vending machine where members can use their passes in the Nike app to redeem free products and gifts. In another dash of branding, the company stocked the machine with enamel pins featuring the store logo that were being distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis for the grand opening .
Scores of companies are on the hunt for data collection and interpersonal connections with consumers and Nike is no exception. Shoppers can use Swoosh Text to connect with a Chestnut Hill employee to check on inventory, request product advice for their sport of choice or lifestyle or find out about the latest releases and services. Engagement data, behavioral data and attitudinal data are all in the mix, as is increasingly the case with many global brands.
The Nike spokeswoman acknowledged questions regarding whether the ongoing labor shortage in the U.S. was a factor in accelerating the smaller-format stores with a digital approach, but did not respond at press time. She also did not address how much of the digital-focused approach is driven by data collection for production, merchandising and targeted marketing.
Boston is not the first metropolis to offer Nike’s specialized stores. The retail expansion can already be seen in New York; Los Angeles, and Austin, Tex.
Nike’s store concepts include its House of Innovation locations in Shanghai, New York and Paris, where the latest product innovations, athlete storytelling and design are showcased.
On Saturday, Nike will unveil Nike Unite Watertown, a 16,000-square-foot outlet store that will feature an in-store community wall highlighting local partnerships and design accents reflective of the community, including hometown athletes and local landmarks. Shoppers will have digital and self-serve options through Nike’s app and digitally enabled service bars. Consumers can return or pick up digital orders. The Watertown store is an example of the Nike Unite concept.
The Nike spokeswoman did not respond by press time regarding whether the Watertown store is larger than the average Nike outlet store.