Here's How Foot Locker Is Diversifying for Success

Brought to you by WBR Insights

As the physical retail finds itself continuing to fight a war of attrition with ecommerce, brands with a brick and mortar priority are having to find ways to stand out and give consumers a reason to visit physical stores over their online counterparts.

Digital technology is providing part of the solution to this riddle. Amazing innovations are enabling retail brands to provide unique technological customer experiences which consumers simply can't get online. However, digital transformation is not the whole answer and there is plenty of room for innovation in other areas as well - it just takes brands thinking outside of the box a little to discover them.

This is the strategy taken by sportswear and sneaker brand, Foot Locker which has been putting a seriously diverse strategy into action.

Foot Locker

The crux of the new Foot Locker strategy is to rebrand itself as not simply a great place to buy the latest footwear, but rather a place where youth culture can feel empowered. In other words, Foot Locker wants its stores to become social hubs for the nation's youth, not simply a retail outlet.

"We've changed a lot," said Foot Locker President and CEO, Richard Johnson. "The pace of change isn't going to slow down. The consumer moves fast. We've got to be agile to adapt to it. [...] All these things we are identifying to invest are capabilities we want to add to the ecosystem that serves youth culture. [...] None of them are distractions."

Foot Locker has begun this process by making a significant investment into startups which are focused around youth culture. Kicks resale business Goat, sneaker design academy Pensole, online children's clothing subscription service Rockets of Awesomeness, and kids' shoe and apparel brand Super Heroic have all been brought under the Foot Locker umbrella and has helped the brand establish itself as being about more than sneakers.

In particular, the investment in Pensole is helping Foot Locker give its visitors a way to engage in real fashion design. As a proof of concept, a show design by a Pensole creator has already been turned into a real-life shoe, manufactured by Adidas and sold exclusively in Foot Locker stores. Goat is still in early stages of development, but Super Heroic and Rockets of Awesomeness products are already available in Kids' Foot Locker at the brand's flagship Times Square location.

"I couldn't be more proud or excited for our company to partner with such high quality and diverse group of entrepreneurs," said Johnson referring to Super Heroic co-founder Jason Mayden and Rockets of Awesome founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal. "Our goal moving forward will be to empower the growth, while harnessing the insights capabilities and innovation that can help shape our business for the future."

However, perhaps the most interesting part of Foot Locker's strategy of youth empowerment can be found in a new type of store location which is beginning to spring up around the world.

A New Breed of Foot Locker

First trialed in the UK cities of Liverpool and London, Foot Locker has now begun rolling out its new store concept in its home market of North America. Starting in Detroit and Philadelphia, the new "Power Stores" come complete with unique products and experiences - often tailored to local tastes.

The Power Stores are strongly focused on customer experience and aim to fulfill the Foot Locker mission of youth empowerment by becoming hubs for not just local sneaker culture, but also art, music, and sports as well. Not only will they have an extensive range of Foot Locker products, but they will also have space to host community events such as popup nail salons and Xbox gaming tournaments.

The stores also serve as innovation centers as they take a leaf from Amazon Go and install RFID sensors in their products. This allows Foot Locker to analyze which products are picked up most often, how much time customers spend looking at them, which ones get put back, and which ones get purchased. This data then allows Foot Locker to deliver more intelligent personalization and product recommendations

Final Thoughts

"We suddenly missed the shift with the consumer," concluded Johnson. "We didn't realize how quickly the consumer was moving. That was the epiphany moment that we have to go faster. [...] Suddenly the customer told us: 'Hey, we are in charge. We don't want to just transact business with you.' For us to go from the leading global retailer of athletic-inspired shoes and apparel to having a purpose of empowering and inspiring youth culture is a dramatic difference."

You can hear Foot Locker's Vice President and Head of Global Retail Design, Kambiz Hemati, speak at Future Stores Miami 2020, taking place in February at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, FL.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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