Wednesday night was cold, hovering just below freezing, but that didn’t stop dozens of sneakerheads and footwear fans from camping overnight for the first glimpse of Nike’s new flagship retail experience that opened Thursday on Manhattan’s 5th avenue.
Sourcing Journal, however, got a first look into a space that’s being called “the store of the future” for its innovative omnichannel design and experiential promise.
“Nike wants to build the future of retail. For us, this means seamlessly bringing together the digital and physical shopping journey,” Nike representative, Sandra Carreon-John, told Sourcing Journal. “Redefining Nike’s flagship services, offering and experiences is a critical next step in the evolution of retail at Nike.”
The new store is big—68,000 square feet big—but it isn’t overwhelming. Each space on every floor is curated for a different purpose and brought together by complete connectivity with Nike’s app. In fact, on Sourcing Journal’s guided tour, the first order of business was to download Nike’s app.
It would be possible to purchase products without the use of the app, though why a consumer would choose to do so is unclear. Registering with the app immediately makes you a NikePlus member, providing access to all of the store’s best features, plus some discounts along the way.
Without the smartphone, however, one could be forgiven for feeling like they were inside a showroom—rather than a sales floor. Apart from the massive footwear floor, dubbed the Sneaker Lab, there’s a notable lack of shelf space compared to a typical retail location. But, with the app in hand, QR codes found on every mannequin and every product installation became the point of sale.
Every product in the New York location could be scanned and purchased on the spot through the use of the instant checkout feature within the app. A mannequin with multiple pieces of apparel could be deconstructed instantly by the individual products it wore. Then, customers can either pick up their purchases in-person or have the product delivered to them via in-store courier, or store staff that brings it to them in a dressing room or the instant checkout counters spread throughout the store.
“Nike NYC brings the digital experience to life in a physical space,” Carreon-John added. “This provides a service to members in that we’re able to create the fastest and most convenient environment for them to try on, compare and buy products.”
The app-connectivity extends far past the sales floor, too. Once consumers select the products they wish to purchase, they can head to one of the few themed and surprisingly roomy dressing rooms. Customers can then choose from multiple lighting arrangements, including a “yoga studio” setting that projects a yellower, more natural light, and select additional products from their app to be delivered directly to the dressing room.
Among the more unique features of the NYC location is the inclusion of the Expert Studio and Nike by You. These areas give customers a chance to design their very own Nike apparel with the assistance of on-site experts. And, in keeping with the theme here, shoppers can sign up for an appointment in either studio through the Nike app.
Opening day in New York saw a simultaneous release of Nike’s new “Noise Cancelling” collection of footwear, a stark white assortment of its most popular silhouettes, designed to be decorated at the Nike by You studio on the first floor. Since the sneakers start out white, there is a bevy of available customization options, right down to the color and texture of the signature Nike swoosh.
“Nike NYC and our House of Innovation concept stores transform the flagship experience into a living, breathing, moving environment that can be just as responsive as our digital channels, all while meeting consumer needs and delivering “only-here” premium experiences,” Carreon-John concluded.
Throughout the projected release date of the five shoe collection, which is featured in the Nike Arena on the store’s first floor, NYC sport legends are expected to tour the new facility, though Nike declined to commit to any dates. Tennis star, Maria Sharapova, had just left by the time Sourcing Journal arrived on opening morning and the flagship store hosted star NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. the night before.