With 10,000 members in its test program, Nike has taken its kids shoe subscription service to a broader market. The shoe retailer also implemented a recycling program so subscribers can return shoes to Nike to be donated or recycled.

Nike Inc. launched a new shoe subscription service for kids called Nike Adventure Club on Aug. 12.

After a two-year test program that began in 2017, called Easy Kicks, Nike generated 10,000 members and has decided to officially deploy the program. Nike is transitioning all of its Easy Kicks members to the Nike Adventure Club.

“Kids grow fast and wreck shoes,” says David Cobban, general manager of the Nike Adventure Club. “We wanted to create a program that turns the negative, stressful shoe-shopping experience into something convenient for parents but fun for kids.”

Because Nike has 170 million members in its NikePlus loyalty program, the shoe retailer decided to expand the Easy Kicks program to reach a broader market of Nike shoppers who might be interested in the subscription, Cobban says.

The subscription program has three tiers:

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  • For $20 per month, subscribers receive four pairs of shoes per year.
  • For $30 per month, subscribers receive six pairs of shoes per year.
  • For $50 per month, subscribers receive 12 pairs of shoes per year.

Consumers can upgrade or downgrade their subscription at any time. For example, if a kid is growing fast and frequently needs bigger shoes, the subscription can be upgraded. Shoppers typically sign up for four pairs per year, but later upgrade to the six pairs plan, Cobban says. Right now, there are about 3,300 members in each plan.

Shoes included in the subscription service comprise roughly 100 options in different colors and styles such as athletic, streetwear, seasonal and cleats. Its audience is kids ages 2-10, with sizing from 4C to 7Y.

An adult shoe subscription program might be in the works, “but we want to get it right for kids,” Cobban says. Right now, there’s a wait list for new members because Nike wants to grow the membership base, but “not super aggressively,” he says.

Personalized mobile and web experience

Shoppers can sign up for the program on NikeAdventureClub.com or in the Nike Adventure Club app. 93% of its members accessed the pilot program in its Easy Kicks mobile app, Cobban says, so the website were primarily designed with mobile consumers in mind as a progressive web app (PWA).

A PWA is a form of mobile design that formats the page to the size of the shopper’s screen and offers the look and feel of an app, but in a mobile website. “It allows you to flick between whatever device you’re using,” he says. So, if the shoppers puts a shoe in her cart for the next subscription box on her mobile app and then goes to her desktop to access the site, she will see the same item in her cart there.

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The entire shopping experience is personalized as the app, mobile web and desktop website will remember the type of shoes the shopper ordered and previously browsed, Cobban says, without revealing specifics about the technology behind it. Plus, once the shopper inputs the preferred shoe size, the mobile app or website will only show her shoes available in that size.

Nike shoe subscription mobile shopping

Nike also is working on an automated “choose for me” function so parents don’t have to go in and choose the shoe for every box “because sometimes kids just want to wear the same shoe every time,” he says.

Nike recently launched a shoe-sizing tool called Nike Fit, which scans a consumer’s foot using his or her smartphone camera to determine the best size. It’s not yet available for kids, but the retailer hopes to leverage that technology for its kids members in the future, Cobban says, without revealing more.

However, each subscription box comes with a shoe-sizing magnet that parents can use to measure their kid’s foot in case sizing changes are regularly needed. “Throw it up on your fridge so it’s easy to find,” Cobban says.

Turning old shoes into playgrounds

Each subscription box is personalized even further and delivered with the kid’s name on top of a decorated box. There is a pull tab, allowing kids to open their own shoe box rather than relying on a parent to open it for them.

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Every box also comes with a new activity guide, a sticker sheet with Nike Adventure Club characters that were created for the program, a comic with the characters, as well as surprises like a Nike bag or pennant.

The box also provides kids with suggestions of activities to do in their new shoes and an activity journal. Nike worked with childhood development professionals to ensure the activities were both age appropriate and safe, says Dominique Shortell, director of retention and member experience at Nike Adventure Club.

Nike uses a fulfillment vendor to include the activity guides in each shipment. The fulfillment vendor can keep track of all the previous guides that Nike has sent to each subscriber, so customers get a different one every time. Plus, the fulfillment company provides a real-time view of warehouse inventory, so everything in the app or NikeAdventureClub.com is in stock, Cobban says.

The box also is resealable, in case the shoes do not fit and need to be exchanged. “Even if they’re wearing the shoes for a week and it’s not working out, they can return or exchange them,” Cobban says.

Nike partners with select non-profit groups—such as Project Lemonade and With Love, which both support foster families and foster kids—to provide the gently worn shoes to foster kids. But it evaluates each return to determine if it’s suitable to be donated or better fitted for Nike’s recycling program, Shortell says.

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Nike works with footwear recycling program Nike Grind to recycle the returned shoes and turn them into play surfaces for playgrounds, gyms and fields. Nike Grind materials are created from rubber, foam, fiber, leather and textile blends, which are then separated and ground into a wide range of granules.

Plus, twice a year, Nike will send its subscribers a pre-paid shoe bag to fill with any brand shoe to ship it back to Nike. It will then grind it up for Nike Grind or donate the gently used ones to its non-profit organization partners.

“If you don’t want to wait until our shoe drives, you can always save your Nike Adventure Club box, fill it with shoes you’d like to recycle and ship it back,” Shortell says.

Nike is No. 34 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000.

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