Can Sneaker Shopping Experiences Help Retail Rebound?

Foot Locker
Foot Locker's new Compton Power Store is designed to serve as a hub for sneaker and local culture.

Foot Locker’s newest location — a so-called Power Store in Compton, California — shows how retailers are working to make the shopping experience deeper for consumers, a trend that could work to win over consumers after the pandemic ends.

The Compton Power Store will serve as a hub for local sneaker culture, art, music and sports. As part of New York-based Foot Locker’s commitment to bringing the best localized expression of its brand to customers, the new store will feature exclusive artwork from local artists, and teammates have been hired from within a 5-mile radius of the store in support of the Compton community.

The 12,000-square-foot store — located at 205 E Compton Blvd — offers an elevated retail experience, including full-family shopping, a curbside pickup window, and an activation space for hosting ongoing community events for the sneaker-obsessed that will adhere to local social-distancing guidelines. To further Foot Locker’s “Home Grown” hyper-local product initiative, the Power Store will offer a curated group of local brand exclusives and limited-release products, such as Viva La Bonita, Ugly Primo, Mel Depaz, and K.Swiss x Mike Reesé.

Retail sales of shoes have become more personalized and more innovative over the years, with Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike among the leaders for such efforts. And as retailers work to reopen physical stores, Nike is striving to impart more local flavor to specific locations via a focus on local athletes and other measures. Nike also uses apps and other digital tools to zero in on the consumer experience and make retail more personal and fun for shoppers.

“In a highly dynamic environment, the Nike brand continues to resonate strongly with consumers all over the world as our digital business accelerates in every market,” John Donahoe, Nike’s president and CEO, said recently. “We are uniquely positioned to grow, and now is the time to build on Nike's strengths and distinct capabilities. We are continuing to invest in our biggest opportunities, including a more connected digital marketplace, to extend our leadership and fuel long-term growth.”

Donahoe has also discussed how Nike used one app to offer a better overall brand and retail experience to consumers.

“Workouts on the Nike training club app more than tripled, peaking in April at nearly 5 million workouts per week during the month,” Donahoe said during a conference call with investors after Nike’s latest earning reports. “Since February, the Nike commerce app has been downloaded more than 8 million times and increased at triple last year's level, proving the power of our investment in digital.”

Retail is still on the long path toward rebound, but such store and digital innovations from the sneaker industry could help it get there.

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