“We are seeing the demand for curbside and updating the marketing on our website and getting ready to operationalize both of those in a bigger way in our stores,” Brian Quill, senior director, global retail IT at Under Armour, said at the Aptos Engage Digital conference. He didn’t reveal the timing of the company’s launch of curbside service, which will augment Under Armour’s buy online, pickup in store offering, or how many stores will participate in the pilot.
Like other nonessential retail businesses, Under Armour had to figure out how to optimize its store fleet during government-mandated brick-and-mortar closures. As online sales picked up throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Quill said the company’s ship-from-store capabilities had become a pivotal part of the business.
“We were able to get associates back into the business to ramp up our ship-from-store business, which helped to offload the heavy demand that we were getting from our e-commerce business and target a lot of those orders to our stores to be fulfilled,” Quill said. “It’s a bit of a surprise and delight to some degree, as well for some of the consumers as they get the product much faster than if it maybe was shipped through one of our centralized warehouses.”
The footwear and athletic apparel company is making touchless transactions a priority across its store base by enabling more contactless payment options including Google Pay, Garmin Pay, Fitbit Pay and Samsung Pay and removing all signature requirements at the payment terminal. On top of that, the Baltimore-based firm has increased marketing the payment options it currently offers, including Apple Pay and NFC chip cards.
Amid concerns of safety for both employees and shoppers alike, Under Armour will limit capacity to 20 percent in the first three weeks of each store opening. At each store, a greeter will be stationed at the front to monitor occupancy, keep line management under control and talk about in-store promotions. And with lines now forming outside some locations, Quill said associates could even fulfill a shoppers’ mobile app orders as they are standing in line.
“It’s almost like the restaurant business at that point, where you can only do as much business as quickly as you can turn the tables,” Quill said. “We’re trying to keep people coming in the stores as quickly as possible, while managing social distancing. It’s been a challenge. We’ve had long lines outside, 30 to 45 minutes in many of our stores, as we’ve reopened in the last couple of weeks.”
According to Quill, Under Armour originally harbored reservations about the safety of mobile checkout, questioning whether staff and shoppers are forced to stand too close together when executing a transaction. But the retailer quickly realized checking out usually takes just a few moments and typically happens “at an arm’s length,” Quill said.
“We do expect that we want to try to now keep people moving in and out of the store as quickly as possible by opening more lanes,” he said, adding that mobile will play a larger role in the brick-and-mortar experience.
In another safety measure, Under Armour has closed off its fitting rooms across all stores, though it now has the opportunity to experiment with cutting-edge technology to further improve the fit experience online without shoppers having to try items on.
“There’s some things we’re trying to do there with better online representation, with some smart fitting-room concepts that can better articulate the fits of the product,” Quill said.
Under Armour anticipates that all of its North American stores will be live with the recently deployed Aptos One cloud platform by August. Quill hopes Under Armour can integrate its endless aisle fulfillment capability within Aptos One to have all transactions, regardless of channel, on one unified system.
Because Under Armour owns numerous “Connected Fitness” apps including MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun, which track customer data including workouts and dietary habits, the company also wants to integrate this information into the Aptos platform to improve its loyalty program.