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Nike’s In-House Approach to Apps Outshines Activewear Competition

Under Armour might manage the largest number of mobile apps, but Nike wins for best aligning its mobile strategy with commerce and other digital-to-physical omnichannel initiatives, according to a new Gartner L2 report.

In the “Activewear U.S. Mobile Apps: Comparing Branded App Strategies” report, Gartner L2 said, “Nike is a rare example of a brand that has cultivated the talent and structures needed to embed a successful technology initiative within a consumer goods company.”

Though conventional wisdom holds that retailers should focus on selling and not technology, Nike bucks that idea—enhancing its bottom line in the process.

With a mix of apps that cater to activity and fitness tracking as well as commerce, Nike appeals to a wide spectrum of consumer needs. Plus, its SNKRS app has garnered more than 300,000 downloads, and all of Nike’s apps drive a higher number of ratings and reviews than both Under Armour and Adidas.

Nike has also proven savvy in using its apps to enhance the store experience, as evidenced by the innovative new Melrose shop that launched in Los Angeles in July. The store is designed for local NikePlus app members using their data to influence inventory decisions. Members with enough rewards built up can use their mobile application to dispense product from an in-store vending machine, or book a half-hour Nike Expert Session to get style advice or other product guidance.

The brand is also planning future app-driven omnichannel efforts, Gartner L2 noted, such as enabling product reservations through the app.

“As Nike continues to invest in improved and personalized customer experiences in-app, it will continue to reap the rewards of app stickiness and the ability to use robust data to drive other aspects of its business strategy,” the report said.

By contrast, Gartner L2 described Under Armour’s $700 million mobile app “acquisition spree” as a “cautionary tale” that resulted in the departure of several of the app founders, even if it did supply valuable consumer data and scores of users.