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First look: inside Adidas's 'high street HQ' flagship

With cleverly embedded digital tech and a swish design, Adidas’s new flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is a dazzling display of retail theatre.

Super-sized, 3D models of Adidas’s best-known trainer styles run along the bus stops on the stretch of Oxford Street opposite Selfridges. The message from the brand is clear: something big is coming to London.

When Drapers arrives at 425 Oxford Street for a preview of Adidas LDN – the brand’s new flagship store – red and black hoardings shield the facade from intrigued passers-by. A flashing screen displaying the Adidas trefoil logo is the only clue to the hive of activity that awaits inside.

The new London flagship opened its doors to the public today. Relocating from the building next door, the new store spans four floors and more than 269,000 sq ft, and is jam packed with a dizzying array of digital innovations.

The full spectrum of Adidas products – men’s and women’s wear, football kit, “young athletes” ranges, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Y-3 and Adidas Originals are all housed in the store – which also features a permanent section focusing on its sustainable innovations.

Showing Drapers around the store, Hannah Mercer, vice-president of global retail and franchise operations, explains that Adidas wanted to create “a HQ on the high street” with a distinctive London flair.

Chris Walsh, vice-president of brand for north Europe, describes the space as an Adidas “beacon”, where shoppers can engage with the brand and product: “We talk about the rise of online retail, but there are still times when customers want to touch and feel products. They come to the store to explore the stories of the products further. So, we’re looking at how we can explore those stories and bring them to life in new ways.”

The store’s London-focus is striking. Exclusive products – LDN designs on T-shirts and posters – are available on the ground floor, while visuals in the fitting room depict London athletes and sports teams, and the badges available in the MakerLab customisation station show typical London imagery such as black cabs. There are also artworks from London artists including Lucy Bryant and Gary Lockwood in the store.

The store features two “running labs” for customers to test product on treadmills. These stand in front of a large, responsive screen giving shoppers the sense they are “running” through London landscapes.

Digital innovation is key to the store, and while some of this takes the form of dazzling screens and campaign videos, the team is keen to stress that the focus is on how digital can be embedded into the space to enhance brand storytelling and customer experience.

“This isn’t just a digital store with screens dotted around the space. This is digital through the lens of the consumer, using digital to enhance the store experience,” adds Roland Auschel, executive board member for Adidas responsible for global sales.

When walking around the store, there is a smart balance between digital used for design and functional purposes – across both digital is embedded seamlessly into the store. For example, so-called “four-dimensional” displays showcase the brand’s technical innovations by blending traditional display techniques such as mannequins and 3D design props with digital screens showing campaign and creative videos.

Playful digital details include an interactive, immersive video game projected on to the floor and walls of the “young athletes” section. There are two “immersive” fitting rooms, where one wall is filled by a huge screen that displays changeable backdrops. When trying on an Arsenal football kit, for example, a shopper could view a walkthrough of the team’s Emirates Stadium – a digital detail geared to lure in selfie-obsessed younger shoppers.

All other fitting rooms feature RFID (radio-frequency identification) mirror technology that detects what products shoppers are trying on, and allows them to request other sizes. The large and accessible ground-floor changing rooms have a studio feel and feature a pull-up bar and gym equipment for shoppers to put their prospective purchases to the test.

The in-store tech is designed to work in harmony with the Adidas app, and, when linked together, they create an impressive omnichannel experience.

One element of this app is the “Bring it to me” function in footwear. Customers visually search products using the Adidas app, and select the size they wish to try on. Staff respond to these requests and are able to see real-time updates of the shopper’s location in the store, and bring the shoes directly to them. Shoppers can also use the app to order products from the store’s digital screens, to book appointments with the “Alphas” – the store’s rigorously trained bra fitters.

The store also makes clever use of QR codes to enhance the seamless blend between digital and online. One example of this is in the “Hype Wall” – a large, illuminated display case on the ground floor that will feature upcoming “hyped” releases or limited drop products. Shoppers will be able to scan the shoes’ code and the drop date will be added directly into their calendars.

“It’s bringing the digital world into the physical world,” explains Walsh. It is a smart way of capturing buzz in the thriving and lucrative sneakerhead scene.

The numerous in-store services and activities range from a “Sneaker Services” repairs section, run in collaboration with Crep Protect in the basement, to “The Base” – an enormous, interactive digital floor where shoppers can play games or create their own design feature. There are already plans for events in the store, including training sessions, guest designers in the MakerLab and a sustainability workshop. 


The entire store is geared to be an ever-changing, engaging space for shoppers. 

The Drapers Verdict

Adidas has pulled out all the stops – and the result is a dazzling destination store. Many retailers fall down with their digital ambitions as tech fails to blend in with the functionality of the space.

While many of the more flashy additions rely on customers downloading and using an app, QR codes dotted around the store make this as easy as possible. Adidas has embedded tech in a seamless manner, and customers are likely to benefit from the innovations without even noticing they are there. 

The store is a modern, innovative space fit for the modern shopper. As high streets struggle and consumers tire of stagnant physical stores, the space serves as a reminder of the importance and value of retail theatre, and the potential power of continuing innovation in bricks and mortar. The store certainly delivers an experience. Whether it delivers on sales is another matter.

Adidas LDN by numbers

  • 425 Oxford Street
  • Four floors
  • More than 269,000 sq ft of floor space
  • Nine months of work: the project began in February 2019
  • More than 100 digital touchpoints
  • 100% powered by green energy
  • 24 LDN T-shirt designs exclusive to the Oxford Street store
  • 31 languages spoken by staff
  • 8 metres: the width of the largest digital footwear screen in the world

 

 

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