Giant Athletic Retailer Nike's Omni Channel Transformation

Often we blog about how e-commerce titans such as Amazon or digital food delivery services such as Postmates seek to provide omni channel options to busy customers. This time, let’s discuss how omni channel ideas are being used a completely different retail industry, shoes and exercise gear.
Fitness giant Nike began in 1964 as the Blue Ribbon Sports company, a shoe reseller. 55 years later Nike is a billion dollar manufacturer and retailer.
In 2006 Nike make its first foray into onmi channel selling. The company created a partnership with Apple called NikePlus (Nike+) which allowed a pair of Nike shoes to connect with an iPod, and track running distance, time, and calories burned. The data then synced to NikePlus’s website. Not only was it a valuable service for customers practicing a fit lifestyle, the service kept the customers returning to the website again and again. The NikePlus website quickly grew into a digital community for athletes, especially runners.
In 2016, the company expanded the NikePlus program to become a customizable app for all sorts of users. Onboarding to the NikePlus app involves asking the user a series of questions — what their favorite Nike brands are (Air Jordan, NIKEiD, Converse, etc.), what sports they like, and what types of products they’re interested in. The company then delivers relevant content through a newsfeed personalized for the user. Nike describes the program as “Connecting Nike’s wealth of sport knowledge with its footwear and apparel offerings, Nike+ translates the ‘plus’ to ‘personal,’ providing members with customized guidance, support and a host of tailored resources that unlock the best of Nike.”
From the similar layouts and complimentary colors in brick and mortar stores and Nikes website to the cross-marketing, show-rooming at Nike stores of limited items that are only available for purchase on the website, Nike is focused on creating a 360 immersion experience for customers. The shoe company is not only tailoring their stores to the local area, but making the stores a destination for experiences, not just shopping. The stores have ‘Trial Zones’, areas where customers can test out Nike gear and even get recommendations using the latest technology. For example, cameras beside a treadmill can record a customer’s gait during a run, allowing a Nike staff member to analyze the results and recommend the best sneaker. The customer can then access the footage of their run through their online Nike account and share it on social media. The Soho Nike store in New York has even installed a full basketball court with cameras to capture the action. Nike aspires to have Trial Zones be a source of entertainment, where people can show up simply to run, play a sport, or train.
Purchasing from Nike is a seamless experience. Whether you shop at a store, or at, you can have the product show up anywhere you’d like–pick up in store, shipped to your home or held for pick up at another Nike store. At the store, you can purchase at the counter or from staff member with a handheld POS.  In 2018, the company also released an app which recognizes shoppers as soon as they enter stores and allows them scan for product availability in their area and check out without waiting in line. The app also allows shoppers to reserve products that can be retrieved from a store locker to try on before buying.
This summer Nike is rolling out an app that helps customer find the perfect shoe fit. Using your smartphone’s camera, Nike Fit will scan your feet, collecting your unique foot dimension so it can then make recommendations for you. The info can then be stored in NikePlus member profiles and easily used for future shopping online and in-store. Not only is this a handy service for customer, the results will minimize shoe returns, and offer the company insights for improving how Nike designs and manufactures product.
These omni channel options are just the tip of the iceberg for Nike, but central to the company’s overall customer loyalty and retention strategy. In the 2018 fiscal year, Nike spent over $1 billion on digital and tech. However, the company thinks the investment is worthwhile, predicting that digital commerce will make up at least 30% of overall business by 2023 and long term become the primary driver of growth for the company.
While most companies don’t have Nike’s deep pockets for investing in omni channel options there are some lessons to be learned here: offer a seamless shopping experience as possible. Both the Nike website and the store are designed to make it easy for a customer to review, purchase and return items. Another lesson is to Keep your customer involved through your website, social media, etc. Nike has said that a regular visitor to their website is worth 3 times as much as a casual shopper to their physical store. Try to solve a problem for customers or offer a service that will enhance the customer experience. In this case by creating a foot scanning app Nike was able to provide an enhanced customer option that would directly benefit the company not only through customer satisfaction, but limit returns too. What can you do to enhance the customer experience for your business?
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