LONDON — Adidas is stepping into the future with its new digital concept flagship store on Oxford Street, which opens Thursday, across the street from Selfridges. It spans more than 26,900 square feet over four floors, and has been designed to be flexible, immersive, service-oriented — and entertaining.
Of the many digital touchpoints Adidas has introduced, highlights include a new app feature called Bring It to Me, to speed up shopping, an immersive running experience to try out products and RFID-enabled fitting room mirrors that engage and educate.
“The reason you come to a physical store has to be different from e-commerce, so we’re giving [customers] a reason to come here through service, through our MakerLab and through digital. It becomes a fusion of what physical manifestation should be for our brand,” said Hannah Mercer, vice president of global retail and franchise operations.
Through the app, shoppers are able to scan a shoe with their camera and select the size they want to try. They can then notify the store associates, show where they are located in the store and how long they have been waiting. The app also allows store associates to click on pre-set responses, which will be translated to the customer’s language of choice.
“If my phone is in German and [the store associate] has selected a response in English, I’ve received the entire communication in my own language, so there’s no language barrier. With the app, customers don’t need to first locate a store associate then wait for them to come back with their size, especially on a busy Saturday morning,” a member of the shop floor staff said.
To cut down further on wait time, stock rooms are located directly behind bestsellers and shoe tubes run through the four floors to transport product quickly. The fitting rooms have also been redesigned and fitted out with the latest technology.
Adidas has introduced two types of fitting rooms, one is immersive, which allows for the customer to choose an experience and be able to view the product in real world environments. The other is an RFID-enabled smart fitting room.
“For example, if you are wearing a football jersey, in the immersive fitting room, you can choose that experience, and the mirror will turn into the screen where it will take you into the Arsenal stadium, on the pitch, in the tunnel and next to the seats. We did a massive shoot with 10 different experiences and it’s a mixture of videos and moving imagery,” said Chris Walsh, vice president of brand Adidas North Europe.
There’s one immersive fitting room on every floor, while the others use RFID technology. Upon entering the latter, the products that a customer has in hand will automatically be scanned and projected onto the mirror, which doubles as a screen, showing full details. The customer has the option to have the screen feature on or off.
Customers can also call for assistance or request a different size or colorway via the screen.
On the top floor, which is dedicated to women’s performance, there’s a Running Lab, for a reactive experience.
Customers can wear Adidas products and run on the treadmill with interactive screens that change according to their running behavior. There is futuristic imagery of London, from Hyde Park to the Shard. Upon completion, the Run Genie will notify the customer which pair of running shoes is most suitable based on the way they land on their feet and their running style.
Other digital screens have been incorporated throughout the store in a subtle and visually friendly way. Not only does the flagship have the biggest digital footwear wall in the world — 26 feet long — there is also an activation–cum–ping pong table in the basement; a screen showing all the latest drops and coming exclusives on the ground floor, and a floor made from digital and interactive screens called The Base.
“It’s about storytelling in a different way, it’s a content moment for the brand and it lets us curate navigation, which is all about exploring the brand of Adidas,” Mercer said.
She also pointed out that nondigital displays are more muted and use conversational and “fan language,” for the football merchandise, in order to foster an emotional connection with the consumer.
The Base, located on the ground floor, is a multipurpose area built with high-res digital screens on the floor that can change the look, feel and environment of the space instantaneously.
Here, the store can have anything ranging from interactive performance games such as football; a yoga session, or live events with athletes. In this space, customers can also create their own shirt design through motion. The design will then get printed on a special vinyl to be heat-pressed on an Adidas T-shirt upstairs in the MakerLab.
“The success of any store is our talent, we’ve had workshops and training and our staff speaks 31 different languages. Our staff in the MakerLab has been specifically hired because they are creators in London with fashion backgrounds and seamstress backgrounds because the tailor-made concept is critical,” Mercer said.
Next to the football section, the MakerLab is a space where customers can get their Adidas products customized. Services include adding patches, embroidery and laser printing to more personalized offerings such as having sleeves removed, ruching and tailoring. Here, Adidas will also host workshops on upcycling, sustainability and educational kid’s workshops.
Sustainability is one of the pillars of the new flagship, which is 100 percent powered by green energy. Fixtures have been made from recycled and recyclable materials while hangers have been made from part-recycled apparel and plastic. Benches are made from footwear waste and display units from plastic waste that can be recycled.
“Every element has been thought through, such as the life cycle of a fixture. At the end of its life we think about what happens to it and how can it be recycled, so everything has that full, 360-degree, end-to-end process,” Mercer said.
Not only has the store been designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, it’s also meant to be flexible and continually provide new experiences for the customer.
The Base area is equipped with a ceiling grid, similar to a free-standing rail, to hang display items. It can easily be switched out and moved around to create new displays in minutes. The basement level, where Adidas archive pieces, such as signed Stan Smith footwear, are kept, has been laid out with tracks on the floor, so that shelving units, which look like bookshelves with spin handles, can be moved around easily.
“These fixtures enables a lot of flexibility, you can open up the space and change it quickly. When designing the space, the brief was that we had to be able to change certain areas within an hour,” Mercer said.
The flagship will also launch with exclusive products such as a collaboration with the artist Lucy Bryant, and a pair of sneakers in a royal purple colorway and these will be located in the basement level.
Other exclusive products will also be featured in the ground floor Hype Wall, a showcase of current releases as well as a digital screen showing upcoming releases with QR codes that customers can scan to remind them of release dates.
The flagship will also include a sneaker cleaning service and specialized bra fitting appointments by specially trained staff. In the first month, customers can expect in-store running and training sessions, appearances from Adidas athletes and entertainment stars as well as workshops on sustainability and design.
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