Sport Chek Retail Lab
cultivates tech-heavy customer experience
(Author : Christopher Hall)
Earlier this year the retailer unveiled what it called "a game-changing" retail experience at its Yonge Street, Toronto, location — combining interactive digital signage and self-service technology to create a retail digital wonderland experience.
Sport Chek said it designed the store to be at the forefront of retail and create an ongoing test-and-learn environment for the store's retail innovations to be proven before rolling out to the chain's store network starting later this year with new flagship stores across Canada.
The Digital Screenmedia Association recently awarded the Sport Chek Retail Lab its Screenmedia Integration Award at its 2013 DSA Industry Excellence Awards recognizing the best projects using digital signage, mobile, self-service and interactive kiosk technologies. The honors were given out at an awards dinner held in conjunction with the recent Digital Screenmedia Symposium in Dallas, and the project was submitted by Canadian telecom giant Telus' digital signage division, which spearheaded the effort.
Solutions such as the Retail Lab that engaged customers with interactivity stood out this year, according to DSA Executive Director David Drain.
"Interactivity continues to be a dominant theme — whether it's interaction through touch, social media or augmented reality," he said. "Many of these projects engaged the customer because the customer participated in the content or the experience."
According to an announcement from Sport Check, the Retail Lab includes some key digital signage and self-service features:
Tile, Tablet, Touch and NFC Screens: The 12,000-square-foot retail space has 140 digital signage screens installed throughout the store, including Samsung ultrathin bezel touchscreen displays with near-field-communication capabilities allowing for personalized content and greater customer interaction with merchandise. Screens also include new digital "tiles," or Samsung tablets, both on the wall and custom built into tables. Traditional signage built in to the top of clothing racks now include tablets in custom fixtures showing video and still image content specifically designed for the associated products.
Shoe Wall Innovation: To complement Sport Chek's authoritative assortment of 500 different footwear styles, adidas has installed a permanent digital shoe wall, featuring "digital" shoes on three 55-inch touchscreens. Each shoe contains custom digital content when selected, including product features, live Twitter feeds, videos, images and interesting facts about athletes' accomplishments while wearing that specific model of shoe.
Nike has installed the "Nike Shoe VJ Experience," featuring a 12-foot high digital signage video wall; customers can use Nike shoes custom-built with gaming "controller" technology to design art and sound on the video wall.
And Reebok has installed a customized, "Build your own Reebok" kiosk where customers can custom-design shoes that are custom-built and shipped to the customer directly.
Custom Oakley Installation: Oakley has installed a custom sunglass design kiosk. The fully interactive experience allows customers to interact with a wide variety of lens, frame, color and logo options to create a customized pair of Oakley sunglasses which are built in-store by specially trained staff.
Staff Tablets: Staff are equipped with tablets loaded with vendor content to better serve customers, with the ability to "take over" the larger screens in the store to show off vendor advertising or community content.
Digital Community Board: The interactive Community Board connects customers with each other and allows them to view schedules, events, standing stats and updates from their favorite community sports leagues as well as information on fitness classes.
Interactive Escalator: Nineteen screens are installed in the wall beside the escalator with a custom-built Xbox Kinect application that follows and matches the customer's ascent, activating a variety of themes on the screen including sports scenes, promotions and a simulated chairlift ride.
Custom Content: Sport Chek's new "digital store control" facility in Calgary produces and pushes custom content to each screen — allowing for any individual screen to be updated with new content within 12 minutes. The Calgary-based digital store control room will run all digital screens throughout the chain as new stores are opened with the digital innovations proven in the retail lab.
Store Front Projection: The store's Yonge Street facade features a large-scale 5-foot-by-32-foot digital projection displaying high-definition video, still images and live feeds of sporting events to anyone passing by the store. The display is driven by four high-powered projectors to produce a high-definition picture visible from across the street, even in direct sunlight.
Sport Chek CMO Duncan Fulton told Toronto's The Globe and Mail that his company wants to go beyond just selling sporting goods to shoppers and to instead start to build loyalty by inspiring its customers. The Retail Lab is a way to start proving concepts that can then be implemented chainwide.
"Eighty per cent of our customers are under 40, only 37 per cent read flyers, and the large majority interact regularly with a digital screen," Fulton told the newspaper. "For us to stay relevant to our customers, we need to also connect with them in the digital space."
One member of the DSA Industry Award judging panel called the Retail Lab's technology "very impressive branding and promotional support for customer conversion."
"This is a newest generation of digitally empowered retail," the judge wrote in their anonymous comments. "Importantly, store staff actively integrated the display images and engagement into their sales effort, moving dynamic media beyond being "fixturing" and ambient media ... This kills 'showrooming.'"