Nike's recent effort to tie together its loyalty program with one of its key wholesale partners, Dick's, is representative in a lot of ways of Nike's strategy at large. One of the key spokes in Nike's wheel is effectively connecting its shopping experience so that a customer shopping on the app, online, in stores or even at its wholesale partners remains in its central ecosystem.
Daniel Heaf, vice president of Nike Direct, put the retailer's aim succinctly during a media event Wednesday. "We're using digital services to create a Nike distinctive experience that blurs the line between digital and our stores," Heaf said.
Central to making the effort work is Nike's membership program, which now has over 300 million members. Customer data is key to Nike's ability to keep customers within its environment, and Nike uses its membership to actively personalize a customer's experience by recommending products or pushing shoppers to content on its training apps.
According to Iris Yen, vice president of Nike Direct Digital Commerce, Nike is also using the customer data it's collecting for highly specific promotions to increase loyalty. On the retailer's SNKRS app, for example, Nike sent out personalized purchase offers for its Off-White Dunk, 90% of which went to members who had previously missed out on an Off-White collaboration.
Nike executives pointed to a recent collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion as a prime example of what kind of connections they're trying to drive: The athletics retailer created wellness and workout content with the artist for its training apps, then also created a curated collection of apparel with her that customers could shop.
"If a member engaged with us through one of Megan's workouts, we could immediately connect her to the inspirational story or curated looks on our commerce channels," said Steve Scarpetta, vice president and general manager of Nike Direct Digital Commerce for North America.
That effort in particular was targeted at Gen Z, a demographic Nike is also going after with one of its newest Nike Live stores in Williamsburg, New York. Nike's membership and apps are closely tied to the store experience at its small-format stores, and each location is built to be customized to the neighborhood. In Williamsburg, that means targeting Gen Z women.
The company opened the store mostly because it noticed high engagement in the area with its training apps, but no physical touchpoint for those shoppers. The store has local partnerships with gyms and fitness studios, and products are also personalized to Gen Z's preferences, with an entire floor merchandised in a gender-neutral way, according to Vice President of Nike Direct Inline Stores for North America Frank Ha.
"Nike Live is where we will see our most significant store growth, expanding across many of our key cities," Ha said. "This small format allows us to be part of the consumer's shopping journeys, specifically in the neighborhoods where they live, work and play. Our Live stores have a sharp point on women's and is our best retail expression for women across all of our concepts."
While Nike Live stores are perhaps the most obvious in their use of data to personalize the shopping experience and assortment, Nike's other key concepts are likewise data and digital-heavy. Nike's House of Innovation flagships, while much larger than Live stores, offer many services through the app, along with in-store customization options. Nike Rise is a similar concept to Nike Live, but personalizes on a city-level rather than a neighborhood-level. According to Ha, that store concept will be coming to North America in the near future.
In fact, a lot of things will be coming to North America soon. Nike is planning up to 200 smaller stores globally in the coming years, and executives said Wednesday that many would be in North America, where Nike is "growing fast and deliberately."
"In November and December alone, we will open nine new stores, and this is more stores in two months than some years pre-pandemic," said Shannon Glass, vice president and general manager of Nike Direct for North America.
According to Glass, the openings will span both Nike Live and Nike Rise, as well as its Nike Unite concept, which is a value-oriented store described as an "evolution" of the old Nike Factory stores.
Overall, the message Wednesday was much of the same from Nike: Digital channels and its direct-to-consumer stores will continue to lead its growth efforts. And the goal of creating a connected ecosystem is as present as ever.
"Nike Digital is not a separate or siloed body of work," Scarpetta said. "Digital is truly the throughline to our One Nike Marketplace vision and it's central in our consumers' everyday lives."