Nike & Foot Locker Just Collaborated on a Store Concept That Shows Where the Future of Sneaker Retail Is Headed

Consumer tastes and shopping habits are evolving at lightning speed — and Nike Inc. and Foot Locker Inc. say they’ve unearthed a viable concept to tackle what is arguably retail’s most pressing charge.

With digitally-connected consumers increasingly demanding better and more personalized in-store experiences, the longtime partners have worked together on a unique customer-centric strategy — that “unites digital and physical” — for the new Foot Locker Washington Heights Community Power Store in New York, set to open this Saturday.

“We’re bringing forward-looking retail experiences,” said Frank Bracken, VP & GM for Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker. “It’s the charm and connectedness of being a part of a community and the neighborhood at a grassroots level. We’re bringing [added] charm and character to the neighborhood.”

The store — part of Foot Locker’s larger push to build closer connections with local communities — is the third of its kind in the U.S. for the retailer, which has opened similar outposts in Philadelphia and Detroit. But, with the help of Nike, the Washington Heights location will have its own infusion of unique features.  (Dubbed “power stores,” Foot Locker has also rolled out locations internationally, in London, Liverpool and Hong Kong.)

The store’s opening, will mark the first time The Swoosh is collaborating with a multi-brand retail partner to offer Nike digital capabilities within a brick-and-mortar space. While in store, Nike app members can scan any of the brand’s products within the app to pull up Foot Locker store inventory and learn more about products, get pricing information and find sizes. The brand’s app users can also use their NikePass at digital vending machine to win free products like mobile phone charging ports, sunglasses, key chains and shoe strings.

Nike vending machine Foot Locker
The Nike vending machine in Foot Locker’s power store in New York.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

Perhaps the biggest news for sneakerheads, the store has the first-ever “Shoecase,” a machine featuring a coveted sneaker on display and allowing NikePlus and Foot Locker VIP members to scan their NikePass for the chance to purchase the hard-to-score release.

Nike shoecase
The Nike “shoecase” in Foot Locker’s power store in New York.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

Users of the Nike app — and members of Nike Plus — can also tap into unique benefits like “reserve,” which allows them to select product on the brand’s app to be held for them at the Washington Heights Foot Locker store.

Ann Hebert, VP of global sales at Nike Inc., said partnering with Foot Locker to integrate Nike’s digital technology into the outpost shows the brand’s “consumer direct offense” strategy at work. (The “consumer direct offense” is concept the firm rolled out in 2017 to emphasize its mission to serve consumers more personally and at scale by leveraging the digital technology and innovation.)

“This is squarely the ‘consumer direct offense,’” Hebert said. “Partners like Foot Locker] extend the reach of our brand …  Our members shop wherever they want to shop — it’s on their terms. So, we as a brand, want to make sure we show up for them wherever they do shop.”

Hebert said Nike also worked with Foot Locker to train six of the associates at the store — located at 605 West 181st Street — as “Nike certified athletes,” the brand’s name for store employees with special expertise on its products.

Inside Foot Locker’s new power store in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Foot Locker

Overall, about 85% of the location’s staffers are members of the local community — residing within a 10-block radius, noted Bracken.

“We made a special effort to recruit locally to make sure they knew about the neighborhood, the sports [and] the local the chit chat,” he added. “We did that in Detroit and in Philadelphia with great impact.”

The store will feature a dedicated women’s shop, kid’s space and men’s floor. It will also carries product from Adidas, Champion, Reebok and other popular athletic brands — all curated based on data from local focus groups and other research.

Watch the video below to peak inside J Balvin’s sneaker collection with FN.

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