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Inside Nike Rise: The new London store concept

 

Following the success of Nike Rise in China and Korea, the sportswear giant is bringing the concept to London in a bid to get closer to the customer with a community focus and sports insights. Nike’s vice president of direct for EMEA exclusively speaks with Vogue Business about the plans.

 

Published July, 14 2022

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How many people have purchased Nike's Zoom Fly in the last month?

And how many people are running with them right now? Nike consumers can find out using a touchscreen at the sportswear giant's new city-focused concept store Nike Rise opening in London today.

London, along with data on the city, brand and athletes to create tailored experiences, community events and insights for sports fanatics. The two-story, 17,000-square-foot store in the high-traffic Westfield shopping mall in West London is smaller than its flagships, but it differs in what it offers customers: tailored data and more top-end digital experiences like the Inside Track, an interactive RFID-enabled digital footwear table where shoppers can compare details such as product benefits, footwear technology and online reviews for any two shoes in the store by simply placing them on the table.

The key is getting shoppers to sign up to be a member via the Nike app

or offshoots like Nike SNKRS, Nike Run Club and the Nike Training Club app, which are used to build closer relationships and capture more consumer data.

Membership is a critical differentiator in driving growth as members who engage with two or more touch points across Nike's ecosystem have a higher lifetime value, according to the brand. This is the third Rise to open and the first in the Western market: Nike piloted the concept in Asia in Guangzhou, China, in July 2020 and a second in Seoul, South Korea, last year.

London was an obvious spot for Nike. "Among the countries in Europe,

the UK has such a passion for sport and high participation rates. When

we look at our member base, there is a large penetration in this immediate area," says Cathy Sparks, Nike's vice president of direct for EMEA, via a call from Nike's European headquarters in Hilversum, outside Amsterdam. She relocated there just under two years ago from Beaverton, Oregon, where she managed Nike's direct stores globally. "We have positioned [London] as a market where we're really going to bring to life our full ecosystem of digital and physical experiences.

Nike Rise is one of four concepts in Nike's retail portfolio, which includes the House of Innovation, Live and Unite. The House of Innovation serves as a flagship for Nike in key cities (there are currently three: New York, Shanghai and Paris). Nike Rise is more city-focused, while Live is even more niche, unique to a specific neighbourhood, offering community events like running clubs and services such as buy-online, pickup-in-store, digital return and scheduled visits in-store. And

then there's Unite, an outlet space for Nike to "liquidate and keep its

marketplace clean", says Sparks.

Sparks declined to comment on Nike's investment in Rise in London or globally but admits that while Rise is a small part of Nike's overall sales, it is an important investment in "an ecosystem relationship with our customers and members who want to engage with Nike on different levels. By pursuing localisation and community on a larger scale, Nike is hoping to increase brand loyalty and drive more shoppers to become members, meaning they've signed up for one of Nike's apps. By making its apps more useful for consumers, Nike will also earn more access to customer data.

"We want to be locally relevant with where we put these different types of retail experiences. We're just getting started with bringing these [retail concepts] onto the market," says Sparks.

 

Rise fits into Nike's drive toward a greater percentage of direct-to-consumer sales; the company has reduced the number of wholesale accounts worldwide by more than 50 per cent in the last four years. For its fiscal 2022 fourth quarter, Nike reported Nike Direct revenues of $4.8 billion, up 7 per cent, led by EMEA. Nike's own digital business grew 18 per cent in fiscal 2022, with 50 per cent of the total digital business coming from its apps. John Kernan, managing director at Cowen & Company, covering retail and consumer brands, predicts that Nike's digital business could reach $30 billion in sales by 2026, up from $11 billion today.

"Nike wants to become a little bit more localised through these stores and make these stores sort of a hub within a local community where people can go to find out about things like sporting events, learn more about fitness, as well as buying and experiencing some of the products, says Neil Saunders, managing director of retail at GlobalData. "I think it's very on trend because people are much more receptive to these kinds of clubs and community-based hubs, especially as they work more from home during Covid. People are more in search of this kind of local

experience to meet other like-minded people as well."

Other sportswear companies have experimented with similar experiential

stores - Lululemon's mega stores host classes for yoga and HIIT workouts, in addition to food offerings and local events, for example but nobody has had the success of scaling it like Nike, says Cowen's Kernan. "Nike is an absolute leader in the sense of driving D'TC at scale and using brick-and-mortar assets to integrate them with the digital platform. Everything that Nike does revolves around their relationship with the consumer and their members." While stores remain an important part of the company's ecosystem, digital is where it is gaining more of a competitive advantage, he adds.

 

The new Nike Rise uses Sport Pulse, a digital platform that harnesses data from various Nike sources to generate localised messaging and marketing for customers in-store - a first for Nike in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, according to the brand. The insights gleaned from Sports Pulse will be used across the store, like the Footwear Fast Lane, a digital footwear wall providing more personal product guidance.

Anonymised data on footwear popularity and performance is pulled from Nike's apps to help build confidence among consumers and encourage them to buy, Sparks says. London's Rise will be similar to the stores in Seoul and Guangzhou, which have been "phenomenal" in hitting member growth targets and revenue goals, but there will also be localised features such as a greater focus on football and collaborations with the community, she adds. Some local West London designers have created sticker patches that shoppers can add to their products via the Nike By You customisation area, for example.

Reflecting the company's Move To Zero commitments towards zero carbon and zero waste, the new Rise will also be the first Nike store to feature sustainable solutions such as walls made of clay plasters that are 100 per cent natural, contain no synthetic, concrete or lime additives, and emit zero VOC emissions, and floors made from recycled Nike materials.

Using data to localise a store experience and focus on specific products has proven to be a smart differentiator for Nike, says Jessica Ramirez, senior research analyst at Jane Hali & Associates. "The consumer knows what they want in this day and age and are not necessarily looking to be told, so it's important for a lot of brands to be able to offer exactly what they're looking for," she says.

"The stores attract a slightly different consumer to the mainstream store, but there will inevitably be overlap between the stores because people who are interested in sneakers are interested in sports and are going to go to a store regardless of what that store does. I do feel these Rise stores provide a much deeper experience.

 

[Nike] may find that they sell more, have more repeat business or convert better because it’s just a more immersive experience,” said Saunders.

 

The store's online-to-offline engagement will be a measure of success, says Sparks. "We're looking for member engagement and our role in sports participation. We'll be tracking activity and app usage and holding ourselves accountable for community activation, making sure that we're getting everybody, particularly kids, more active in the West London neighbourhoods.

 

Of course, we will want the door to hit its targets, but we will also be looking at what happens when a consumer comes in and visits Nike. Will they use the app? How so? Will it be frequent afterwards? That's how we know that we're building relationships with our members.“

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