VIDEO: Sport Chek goes digital with new retail concept

New Toronto location is wired and ready for business

New Toronto location is wired and ready for business

Sport Chek is taking its “Your Better Starts Here” tagline to a new playing field with the launch of a new retail concept store in Toronto.

The sports equipment and apparel retailer has outfitted the 12,000-sq.-ft location at Yonge and Eglinton with the latest digital technology to enable more interaction between customers and the brand. Sport Chek partnered with Samsung and installed 140 digital screens throughout the store.

These include smaller format screens such as digital tiles built into display tables, tablets that have been incorporated into the top of clothing racks and loads of digital displays to showcase videos and still images.

The storefront features a large digital projection screen that displays high-definition video, still images and may eventually show live feeds of sporting events.

Next to the store’s escalator is a wall of 19 screens. When consumers approach, an Xbox Kinect activates and displays promotions or a simulated chairlift on the screens. A Community Board located on the second floor provides customers with schedules, updates and statistics for local sports teams. Consumers can log onto the Sport Chek Facebook page to submit photos for the board.

Each sales associate has also been equipped with a tablet that allows them to takeover larger screens in the store to showcase vendor information and advertising – some of which appears as part of the regular in-store, on-screen content.

(Ads aren’t the only marketing opportunity for brands sold in the store. Reebok, for instance, installed a build-your-own sneaker kiosk. The finished product will be shipped to the consumer approximately four-to-six weeks later. Meanwhile, Adidas set up its first permanent digital shoe wall in Canada to showcase content for each shoe model including product information, live Twitter feeds, videos, images and more.)

All of the digital content is controlled from a facility in Calgary, which can produce and send material to specific screens within 12 minutes.

During a tour of the new retail location, Duncan Fulton, the chief marketing officer at FGL Sports, told Marketing, “I think this is the first store where you can say it holds up to the brand really well from every aspect, from the staff to the design… and of course all the digital.”

Fulton wouldn’t say how much Sport Chek invested in the new location. He did say the goal was to build something “we could replicate and expand. Every single thing in here is affordable and scalable to a store network,” hinting that Canadian Tire (which owns Sport Chek) and its affiliated Marks retail chain could take a cue from the digital format if it proves successful.

“Sport Chek is small enough that you can try these things,” he said. “If it turns out that some feature in here wildly fails, [that's] fantastic, because I’d rather learn it in one test store than roll something out across 500 Canadian Tire stores and realize it doesn’t work.”

Sport Check will support the new retail concept store, which was designed by Sid Lee and officially opened Jan.26, with local print advertising and a street celebration once the weather improves, said Fulton.

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