business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Yesterday in this space we noted a Los Angeles Times story about how “Petco is opening a new kind of retail store where animal-friendly amenities such as dog baths, play yards and treats fit for humans are meant to win over picky pet owners who would otherwise snub the mainstream brand.”

The goal is to be more than just a source of product, and become a real resource for shoppers. A smart move, I think.

Well, now the Los Angeles Times has another story about retail reinvention: Nike has opened a new store in West Hollywood, “a concept store that aims to lure the digital shopper with personal services and experiences. And the products are chosen based on the shopping preferences of local users of a newly enhanced NikePlus app.”

Cathy Sparks, vice president and general manager of Nike Direct Stores, tells the paper that the “store targets the customer ‘who is very fit and exercises often but who also cares a lot about how they look’ when they are exercising … This store is meant to take everything we know about our customers digitally and, with the new Nike app, use that to elevate their shopping experience. Make it easier. Make it faster. Make it more fun and let it be on their terms.”

Other excerpts from the story:

“The store’s services include what the company calls ‘swoosh texting’ for ‘real time customer service.’ There will be curb service for shoppers in a hurry. Those with more time can book a session with a store expert who can help them choose the right gear.”

“Customers also can buy through the app and then find their purchase waiting in a small locker for pickup.”

“The store layout is also experimental. At the entrance are Nike’s latest products, gleaned from what the company thinks could be popular. At the rear are the products that customers in this section of West Hollywood already have named their favorites, such as running pants for women and hoodies for men.”

It is worth noting that the store, dubbed Nike by Melrose, is less than a half mile east of Nordstrom Local Melrose, a 3,000 square foot format that offers tons of customer service, but no in-stock clothes. Rather, people use it as a pickup location for products ordered online, and provide customized services for these shoppers.

Retail is changing. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway from “The Sun Also Rises,” it will happen two ways. “Slowly, and then all of a sudden.”

Either way, it’s an Eye-Opener.
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