The athletic apparel and shoe manufacturer opens a four-story store in Paris with COVID-19 precautions in mind. It also launched its new Bra Fit technology for Nike sports bras.

Soon after opening its Nike Live store in Guangzhou, China, Nike Inc. has opened its latest store—what the shoe manufacturer deems a House of Innovation—in Paris.

The four-story, 26,000-square-foot store is the third of its kind; the other two House of Innovations are located in New York City and Shanghai, China. “The House of Innovation is a peek behind the curtain into everything we’re innovating on and how we’re bridging our offline retail with online,” says Cathy Sparks, global vice president, general manager of Global Nike Direct Stores and Service.

“We’ve strategically placed these stores, and they’re meaningful destinations for the world with culture and influence. And we can bring Nike to millions of tourists—maybe not right now, but when the world goes back to normal,” Sparks says.

Nike planned the Paris store pre-COVID-19for 4 years, in fact—and it was under construction for the last 18 months. The retailer wanted to open in the spring, but it delayed the opening until the local government deemed retail stores safe to open amid the pandemic. To ensure safety and social distancing inside, its footwear try-on has limited seating, hand sanitizer stations are set up throughout, and it uses store lighting to manage traffic flow inside and ensure people are remaining six feet apart when waiting in line. The social distancing markers on the floor are projected from lighting in the ceiling. And because it is lighting rather than store signage, it can easily change the markers as safety measures change, Sparks says.

Wall of data called the Mission Control wall at Nike Paris

Mission Control wall at Nike Paris.

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A new feature at the Paris location includes a “Mission Control” wall, which is a visual representation and a live feed of Nike member data, Nike sports information and even weather from around the world. So, it will show how many consumers are using the app, how many miles they’ve run, what kind of sports they’re playing, among other insights. This is different from its other stores, which have feeds of Nike data scattered around the store, but not an entire wall dedicated to it, the retailer says.

The athletic apparel and shoe retailer also added a kid-focused area called the Kid Pod. “From our insights at other stores, we knew we could do better for kids, so we created this,” Sparks says.

Two kids compete or play together in the Nike Kid Pod

Two kids play in the Nike Kid Pod in Nike Paris.

Kids can try on Nike apparel and shoes and play a virtual game solo, along with other kids or by competing against other kids in the store. “This is the first time we’ve done this for kids in the stores, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we expanded this to other stores,” Sparks says. The brand also has a subscription-based shoe service for kids shoes, but it is still only for U.S. consumers. Once that is expanded outside the U.S. sometime in the future, it could become part of the Kid Pod, Sparks says without revealing more.

And while Nike Fit for shoes is not a new concept, the Paris store is the first to add Nike Fit for women’s sports bras. While Nike Fit enables store associates to scan customers’ feet with a smartphone app to determine their shoe size, the Bra Fit by Nike Fit measures a consumer’s halter and band size with a measuring tape. Using in-house-developed machine learning and artificial intelligence, the algorithm will give size recommendations in all different types of sports bras the retailer sells after the consumer or store associate enters her size information into its system. And given concerns of COVID-19, Nike also offers instructions so the shopper can take her own measurements rather than relying on a store employee to do it. The Nike member can save the information to her profile to access it when she’s shopping online or in store later.

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“We feel like we’ve cracked the code to a less-than-ideal fitting experience with sports bras,” Sparks says.

Its Bra Fit technology is part of an increase in focus on diversity in women’s apparel. The store has body-diverse mannequins and mannequins with different accessibilities, such as those with a prosthetic leg.

“We want to drive our women’s business and have more women participate regularly in sports,” Sparks says. “But she has to see herself in sports and that includes having a diverse product range.” For example, it will be selling more conservative swimwear pieces for women who want to swim but want a more modest look compared with a bikini or one-piece with little coverage.

Diverse mannequins inside the Nike Paris store.

Nike Paris includes diverse mannequins with a range of body types.

The Paris 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 Nike unlocks, 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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Nike Paris opens on July 30. Nike is No. 24 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

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