Sport Chek Changes the Game With Retail Lab in Toronto

World's largest sports and technology brands partner with Sport Chek to deliver "living lab" experiences at new retail concept store

Retail lab successes will form the basis of Sport Chek's first new flagship stores across the country

Brands including Nike, adidas, Reebok, Samsung and Infusion to test new tech tools in store

Store located at 2529 Yonge Street in Toronto, between Eglinton Ave. and Lawrence Ave.  

TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Sport Chek, Canada's leading sporting goods retailer and the Official Sports Store of Canada's Olympic Team, today unveiled a game-changing retail lab. Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, the store delivers the perfect mix of great products, expert staff and next-in-class digital innovation for an unparalleled shopping experience.

Retail Strategy

Sport Chek seeks to inspire its customers to be a 'better you' - whether that may be looking better, feeling better or performing better in sport. Captured by the brand's tagline: "Your Better Starts Here," Sport Chek undertook a brand reformation in 2012 with powerful new advertising and social media strategies.

Ultimately, the retail environment is the primary execution of the brand - and Sport Chek's management believes that a fundamentally better and more inspiring retail environment can be achieved through the combination of world-class products, all-star staff and customer service and digital innovations to deliver powerful images, sound and interactivity throughout the store.

Sport Chek designed the store to be at the forefront of retail and create an ongoing test and learn environment. These next-in-class retail innovations will be proven and rolled out to the Sport Chek store network starting late 2013 with new flagship stores across Canada. 

"Our goal with this live lab store is to test and demonstrate the latest in retail technology to deliver the same emotional rush our customers get when they are pursuing the sports and physical activities they love," said Michael Medline, President, FGL Sports. "The store will serve as a conduit between customers and their favourite brands, it offers unparalleled levels of customization and is staffed with the strongest product category experts in the industry."

"We wanted to create a store that is dynamic and has its own energy. We have built a store that matches the intense passion Canadians have for sports and the activities they pursue," Medline added.

Digital and Product Innovations

Tile, Tablet, Touch and NFC Screens:  The relatively small 12,000 square foot 'lab' punches way above its weight and is believed to be the most advanced digital retail space of any category in North America. With 140 digital screens installed throughout the store, it features Samsung displays with ultra-thin borders, touch technology and near-field-communication (NFC) capabilities allowing for personalized content and greater customer interaction with merchandise.

Screens include new digital 'tiles' both on the wall and custom built into tables. Traditional signage built in to the top of clothing racks now include tablets in custom fixtures showing video and still image content specifically designed for the associated products.

Shoe Wall Innovation: To complement Sport Chek's authoritative assortment of 500 different footwear styles, adidas has installed its first permanent digital shoe wall in Canada and largest installation in North America, featuring 'digital' shoes on three 55" touch screens. Each shoe contains custom digital content when selected, including product features, live twitter feeds, videos, images and interesting facts about athletes' accomplishments while wearing that specific model of shoe.

Nike has installed its first 'Nike Shoe VJ Experience' in the world. Featuring an entertaining 12-foot high digital wall, customers can use Nike shoes custom-built with gaming 'controller' technology to design art and sound with the palettes by artists James Jean and David Choe, and sound courtesy of world-renowned DJ Cut Chemist.

Reebok has installed a customized, 'build your own Reebok' kiosk where customers can custom-build every single part of their shoe, representing limitless possibilities. The shoes are custom-built and shipped to the customer directly within four to six weeks.

Medical Motion Dynamic Gait Analysis: Customers interested in finding the perfect shoe for their sport or activity can participate in a comprehensive gait analysis in the store. Customers walk or run on a gait analysis treadmill, while being monitored by trained Sport Chek associates who can then recommend the perfect shoe.

Ski and Snowboard Innovation: As North America's leading ski and snowboard retailer, Sport Chek's retail lab now includes one of only three Wintersteiger Mercury automated ski and snowboard tuning machines in Canada. Customers will be able to watch their skis and boards being tuned on the most advanced machine in the world, offering razor-sharp edges and eight different available base structures. The machine can tune 30 skis or boards per hour, meaning a quick turn-around for customers.

To add further customization, Sport Chek has installed a Sidas custom ski and snowboard boot insert system. Specially trained Sport Chek staff use the machine to create a 3D map of the customer's foot which is then reflected in a boot insert that provides maximum support, shock absorption and comfort within 30 minutes.

Wilson Baiardo Racquet Stringer: Sport Chek's retail lab includes the Wilson Baiardo Racquet Stringer, offering a precise racquet stringing tension within a decimal point of poundage in just 12 minutes. The Baiardo is used in many tour events each year, including the Australian Open and US Open.

Custom Oakley Installation: Oakley has installed a custom sunglass design kiosk. This fully interactive experience allows customers to interact with a wide variety of lens, frame, colour and logo options to create the perfect customized pair of Oakley sunglasses which are built in-store by specially trained staff in minutes.

Staff Tablets: Staff are equipped with tablets loaded with vendor content to better serve customers, with the ability to 'take over' the larger screens in the store to show off vendor advertising or community content.

Digital Community Board: The interactive Community Board connects customers with each other and allows them to view schedules, events, standing stats and updates from their favourite community sports leagues as well as information on fitness classes.

Interactive Escalator: Nineteen screens are installed in the wall beside the escalator with a custom-built Xbox Kinect application that follows and matches the customer's ascent, activating a variety of themes on the screen including sports scenes, promotions and a simulated chairlift ride.

Custom Content: Sport Chek's new 'digital store control' facility in Calgary produces and pushes custom content to each screen - allowing for any individual screen to be updated with new content within 12 minutes.  The Calgary-based 'digital store control' room will run all digital screens throughout the chain as new stores are opened with the digital innovations proven in the retail lab.

Store Front Projection: The store's Yonge Street facade features a large-scale 5-foot x 32-foot digital projection displaying high-definition video, still images and live feeds of sporting events to anyone passing by the store. The display is driven by four high powered projectors to produce a high-definition picture visible from across the street, even in direct sunlight.

Augmented Reality: Interactive 'augmented reality' is being tested in the store with customers being able to access customized offers and discounts by downloading the Sport Chek 'Scan and Save' app for in store savings.

Wired For Scalability: Spot Chek intends to introduce and test ground-breaking and 'next in class' digital retail advancements in the store for years to come. Recognizing the rapid speed of technology advancements, the retail lab has been pre-wired with 5.5 km of fibre optic cable and 6.5 km of Cat6 cable in anticipation of continuous innovation and testing of new technology.

All-Star Customer Service

Staff members at the retail lab are defined by their passion for sports and living active lifestyles as well as a commitment to providing excellent customer service. Assigned to sections of the store that match their own personal expertise, employees share in-depth product knowledge and insights from their experiences using the gear.

Multimedia stories detailing the sporting lives of store employees will be featured on digital screens throughout the store, inspiring consumers and addressing product questions and expert recommendations.

In addition, the store offers complimentary valet with purchases of $25 or more and concierge at the curb, taking the customer experience to a whole new level.

Partner Endorsements

Nike: "We are proud to introduce the Nike Shoe VJ at Sportchek's retail lab in Toronto.  For the first time, we are enabling consumer to express themselves through original artwork that is inspired by the performance attributes of our most innovative products: Nike Free 3.0 and Nike Air Max 2013," said Eric Grimes, General Manager, Nike Canada. "Nike has always been about pushing the limits of performance and self-expression, and we are excited to continue to push the boundaries of the retail experience for our consumers in partnership with Sport Chek."

Adidas: "Our global technology team was thrilled to be involved in this truly unique retail experience that will inspire consumers to a completely new level," said Jim Gabel, President of adidas Canada Group. "With the installation of adidas' first permanent digital shoe wall in Canada and the largest in North America, we are proud to share our global innovations with Canadians in this one of a kind retail concept."

Samsung: "With Samsung displays helping to power opening day, we are excited to partner with Sport Chek on this project that matches our ambitions to push the boundaries on innovation," said James Politeski, President of Samsung Canada. "Our partnership will see best-in-class Samsung technology rolled out to amplify this amazing retail experience and really wow Sport Chek's customers."

Telus: "TELUS believes that connectivity and customization are the future of retail as brands strive to create new experiences for their customers," said Joe Natale, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer, TELUS. "This concept store from Sport Chek has the technology and high energy environment of a sports stadium living inside a 12,000 square foot retail lab and TELUS is pleased to have delivered the digital media solutions to help bring the Sport Chek vision to life."

Infusion: "Infusion has been thrilled to work with FGL in creating retail digital experiences from concept to design," said Alim Somani, President of Infusion. "The innovative experience created at the Sport Chek flagship store in Toronto is a great example of a major retailer embracing the future. Through this collaboration, Sport Chek can explore the potential that digital technology provides in driving increased consumer engagement, impacting both sales and perception of the brand. We are proud to be able to complement the Sport Chek vision and add them to a growing family of world-class brands that we've helped break through the status quo."

Details
Address: 2529 Yonge St, Toronto (East side, two blocks North of Eglinton Ave.)
Hours: Monday to Saturday:  9:00 AM to 9:00 PM; Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Design: Sid Lee Architecture

About FGL Sports
FGL Sports Ltd. is Canada's largest national retailer of sporting goods, offering a comprehensive assortment of brand-name and private-brand products and operating more than 500 stores from coast to coast, under the following corporate and franchise banners: Sport Chek, Sports Experts, Atmosphere, Sport Mart, Athletes World, National Sports, Intersport, Econosports, Nevada Bob's Golf, Hockey Experts, Fitness Source, and S3. FGL Sports also has websites for several of its corporate and franchise banners which can be accessed through its main website at www.FGLSports.com.

SOURCE FGL Sports Ltd.



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