How Nike is bringing super service to mainstream retail

It’s safe to say that the name Nike is familiar to most. The sports and athletics apparel/equipment corporation is one of the most recognised in the world of retail.

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But while its brand may be mainstream, the services it offers are increasingly more specialist in nature. To offer the best customer experience Nike is taking a leaf out of luxury’s book. The resulting initiatives paint an interesting picture of retail’s future.

Nike Performance Stylist

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The personal shopping experience for women is back after a short run in December. Open until 11th June at NikeTown London, Nike Performance Stylist lets anyone book a personal stylist experience. Each 1:1 session last 60 minutes and sees the customer working with a style expert.

They will help put together different looks based on the customer’s needs – both style and performance. A short questionnaire filled in by the customer when registering helps to tailor the choices to each individual. The service is completely free to customers, but is exclusively targeted at women.

Great service isn’t just for big name luxury stores. It’s becoming more important for stores of all sizes to have fantastic service. A growing number are bringing in a personal shopper offering to build a greater connection with customers.

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Retail needs to be more about the customer experience. Those who enjoy that experience are more likely to be loyal to a brand long-term. Services like the Nike Performance Stylist take any work out of the shopping experience for the customer. They help establish the brand as an expert in their field. They also present an opportunity for the brand to introduce customers to different products or a wider range.

Making a personal shopper experience a short-term thing is an affordable way for any brand to offer this type of service. As the growth in pop-ups has shown, cost and space are not limiting factors any more. A temporary offering also acts as a great test bed for whether a permanent service would be well received by customers.

Nike Training Shoe Trial

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Also currently running is the free Nike Training Shoe Trial. Customers can personally try out Nike’s new training footwear, Nike Free Transform Flyknit, for free. Once they’ve booked a time and noted their shoe size, customers can head to Nike’s King’s Road store for the same-day trial. They swap their usual workout shoes for a pair of Nike Free Transform Flyknits and then are free to go try them out. Once they’re done they return them to the store the same day and pick up their own shoes again.

This is the ultimate try before you buy. It lets customers decide if a product is right for them by testing it in the field. If they like them, it also helps create a sense of ownership over the product before they’ve even bought it. They’ve worn it, they’ve lived in it, they’ve made it part of their life for a short time. And together these translate into sales. Nike’s team also get to pick the brains of its testers to see what was good and bad about the experience. This can help with the development of future products and services.

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This new in-the-field testing could become more important for retailers in the future. Especially for products that have a high price tag or, like footwear, come in a huge range of options and levels of performance. Brands that give customers the freedom to try without the pressure to buy show their trust in their customers. As well as a certain level of confidence in their products and ability to deliver what customers need.

NikeLab X Olivier Rousteing

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For its newest collection NikeLab has partnered with renowned French fashion designer and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing. The collection sees classic Nike football styles reimagined with a touch of elegance. To view the collection Nike drives customers to their mobile devices, rather than desktops. It then asks them to sign in or register.

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Image credit : NikeBlog

Nike members can exclusively preview the new collection ahead of its global release next week. Previews are available by appointment at select NikeLab stores and showrooms across Europe. Customers can see the collection in person and place pre-orders.

Those unable to make an appointment to preview the new range can also get a sneak peek at it through the dedicated mobile page for the collection. It covers styles for both men and women including jackets, tops, trousers and trainers.

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Letting valued customers be first to experience new products is more commonly associated with high-value brands. Nike is adding some of that special feeling to its shopping experience. It makes customers feel important and that the brand cares about them. It also helps to generate excitement for new products. And brands can do this whether they have a loyalty scheme, fan base or not. It’s all about connecting with customers, especially the most loyal and committed.

Requiring customers to register before viewing the collection adds to the mystery and exclusive feel. It also provides Nike with valuable customer email addresses for future communication. And it lets them gauge interest in the new collection.

When it comes to building relationships with customers, Nike is one of the most forward thinking of retailers. All of these services are designed to make things better for the customer and deepen the link with Nike’s brand at the same time. And they don’t have to cost a fortune or require a lot of extra work. As much as anything it’s about a change in mindset. The service approach has long been the way of luxury, now it’s the turn of the mainstream.

Images courtesy of Nike

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