The reformatted Nike store in Guangzhou allows shoppers to book Nike-sponsored workshops and workouts, as well as use the Nike Fit foot-scanning technology to find the right shoe size.

While some retailers are closing their shops and shuttering locations, Nike Inc. decided to invest in its most successful stores with digital elements. One of those stores is its newly dubbed Nike Rise store in Guangzhou, China.

Nike opened this store in 2012, and it is one of the athletic apparel brand’s top-performing stores in the country. Plus, Nike reported its China total revenue increased 8% in the fiscal fourth quarter ended May 31, 2020, despite its overall revenue taking a 38.0% dip.

“We’ve been planning this [remodel] for more than a year and closed the store about 9 months ago, and we are re-opening as planned,” says Cathy Sparks, global vice president/general manager of Global Nike Direct Stores and Service. “That speaks to the unbelievable job China has done in managing the pandemic. While many brands are thinking of closures, we have a high degree of confidence in this concept and of doing it safely.”

The large-format store is 22,098 square feet, reminiscent of some of its other flagship locations, such as Nike Soho in New York City, and stores in Dallas and Portland, she says. “The focus of this store is taking the pulse and energy of sports in the city and the pulse and energy of our members and showing that in the store,” Sparks says. For example, a ticker in the store may display local basketball scores, or the cumulative total miles ran and recorded in the Nike Run Club app in Guangzhou—3.2 million kilometers (or nearly 2 million miles) in the last year.

Nike Experience is a new feature unique to this store, which allows Nike members in the app to access workshops and workouts that will take place in the store and around the city. Shoppers can book and reserve the experiences in the app, or reserve in store. For example, members can book Nike-sponsored soccer, football and basketball games or meet up with a Nike coach at the Guangzhou store and run around the city with his or her guidance.

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A Nike associate scans a shopper's feet using the Nike Fit app.

A Nike associate scans a shopper’s feet.

The store also will feature—for the first time in a Nike China store—Nike Fit, which allows store associates to scan customers’ feet to determine their shoe size. Nike Fit scans and collects 13 data points that map the consumer’s foot. That data is stored in the shopper’s Nike member profile so they have access to it whether they’re shopping in-store or online. Nike developed the technology in-house using machine learning and artificial intelligence that gets smarter as Nike adds more products and scans more consumers’ feet.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to be 9.5 in one Nike shoe and 9 in another,” Sparks says.

Another benefit of this technology is that it is nearly touchless, which is important for shoppers wary of shopping in stores during the coronavirus pandemic, Sparks says. By scanning feet with a device, the store associate does not need to physically measure the shopper’s foot or go through the process of bringing out several pairs of shoes to see what fits best.

The Guangzhou location also will include all the Nike App at Retail features, which are in-app features that are available to shoppers when the app senses she is in the store. The features include scanning products to learn more information, scanning products to send items to dressing rooms, and unlock boxes, which give Nike members special products like Nike socks every 14 days when they scan their member QR code at the store.

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Inside the Nike Guangzhou store Sport Hub

Inside the Nike Guangzhou store.

The consumer brand manufacturer plans to scale the Nike Experience capability to other stores that will become Nike Rise stores, or digitally focused stores, in other countries. “This is a city that is activating in a safe way,” Sparks says. “As more cities turn back on and stores reopen, we will be ready to go with this feature in the Nike app.” And in some parts of North America, it plans to open new digitally focused stores and reformat other top-performing stores with more digital capabilities in 2021, she says without revealing specifics.

Nike Guangzhou opens July 9. Nike is No. 24 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

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