Chris Aubrey, adidas

Chris Aubrey is the Director of Commercial Experience at adidas. The adidas Group is a global leader in the sporting goods industry and offers a broad portfolio of products, including its instantly recognizable apparel, footwear and accessories. The Group has made a name for itself with a strong brand and loyal following. Here Chris Aubrey talks about the importance of the in-store experience and how his team is further enhancing the brand through advances in technology and the use of pop-ups.

What differentiates the adidas brand

A brand concept store should be an experience rather than just about the product. And with adidas we really want to try and transport the feeling of the adidas brand to the consumer across our different store concepts. For our Sports Performance brand it’s about transporting the feeling of being really involved in the sport–putting consumers at the heart of the action, almost as if you’re in the field of play so that you feel as though part of the excitement of what’s happening on the pitch–and I think this is what differentiates us from our competitors.

New experiences
Retail is evolving so rapidly at the minute so people are looking for more from stores these days than just product. They are looking for services and an experience and to be able to shop how they want to shop and when they want to. It is no longer good enough to just talk about the physical store–you really need to look at the whole picture.

Ideally the different sales channels should be one seamless experience. If a customer is surfing the internet and sees your brand and decides they want to buy something, they should just be able to do that, wherever they are, then continue that experience in store.

We’ve created a concept called the virtual footwear wall that is truly bringing the virtual online experience to the store. The virtual footwear wall was created to provide an integrated shopping experience. You can browse through a wall full of full size virtual shoes in 3D as if you are shopping from a normal wall of product.

The difference with a virtual experience is you don’t need to walk up and down, you can scroll up and down–you explore, zoom in, rotate the product, and can see all the different product information, who’s wearing the shoe and what people are saying about it on the different social media sites. A lot of the products we make have a lot of marketing information attached to them, but most of the time, in store, you don’t see that. Now the product becomes the entry point for all that information. And this is just the starting point–as you’re no longer constricted by physical space restraints.

adidas took over a small store of around 50 m² in central London for around six weeks leading up to and including the Olympic Games to launch and sell one specific product related to the Olympics–a new and innovative super-lightweight running shoe.

The store was a great success and created a real buzz about the product. It showed us that we’re no longer constrained to where there is a high street or a shopping center–product can be sold anywhere–and we’re looking at different opportunities for our different brands; for example during the recent Berlin marathon, we set up a small pop-up store linked to the Marathon just for the weekend. At the heart of the pop-up store we featured our latest innovation, the virtual footwear wall, which helped to drive a lot of attention and traffic.

Ideas like pop-ups give us more freedom, and the opportunity to surprise our customers, especially as you can be more reactive with a pop-up store–you can open in a relatively short space of time, sell your product for a week for example and then move on. But it’s not enough to just open a pop-up with tons of product–there should be a story, a reason, a theme, something that people will care about, talk about and want to see. That ultimately can enhance the brand.

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