Under Armor goes to the forefront of in-store technology

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It’s one of the most forward-thinking fitness brands in the world, but Under Armor stores in South Africa have never reflected its tech credentials. Last week, that suddenly changed.

On Saturday, it launched its first Brand House City Concept store in South Africa, at the Mall of Africa, to showcase the connection between its in-store experience and its technological heritage.

“The brand is reinventing retail by reducing friction, promoting convenience and providing consumers with an engaging shopping experience that tells a story and provides athletes with performance solutions they didn’t know they needed but can’t imagine experiencing without,” said Apollo Brands, the sports and lifestyle company that owns local distribution rights for Under Armor (UA).

“With its strategic eye firmly on omnichannel experience and execution, the new Mall of Africa store offers a host of exciting digital-centric features with digital screens positioned throughout the store and RFID capabilities to enhance customer experience. shopping experience.”

In short, the store is starting to look like UA gear itself: the shoes use advanced technologies like smart chips embedded in the soles that sync with apps on smartphones, while the running shirts use a Microfiber technology draws heat away from the skin. We’ve reviewed both product categories in Gadget over the years and will soon be reviewing the newest offering in its footwear line.

Meanwhile, the new store was filled with athletes and fitness enthusiasts when it opened. This has made it possible to connect not only with the equipment, but also with expert sales assistants who have answers to equipment and fitness questions at their fingertips.

This joins an in-depth UA analysis of its stores aimed at answering the question of whether it was effective in its goal, “to make athletes better”. He found that digitizing stores would help athletes make better purchasing decisions by understanding UA product technology and its benefits.

Brent Venter, head of retail at UA South Africa, told Gadget the change was symbolized by a shift from massive graphics and huge logos to a greater focus on the product and the ability to experiment with them on different canals.

“There is a lot more space, which allows us to display our product and allow the consumer to appreciate the product more. The massive graphics overwhelmed the product. As a technically advanced product, we want to be a bit more discreet and provide a premium experience.

This provides a context in which technology, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), can be experienced in a more natural way. This will not only allow products to be touched on screens for more information, but also for accurate inventory management.

“We are already capable of RFID, and this will enable us in the near future to offer better omnichannel capability, which will then provide our consumers with the ability to click and collect or have it delivered. It also allows us to have much more attractive components in our store, like digital screens where people can shop. They can lift and learn, pick up a shoe and it tells you about the shoe, then buy the product (via the screen).

RFID will be used both for more efficient inventory management and to give customers more confidence in their purchases.

“When they see that there is an element left in the system, there is one left. The RFID tag can also talk to the store’s digital screen, allowing the consumer to move new products onto the screen and allowing them to talk about the product. We will also start introducing smart signs at entrances. It is an RFID driven technology which is a security feature, but its main purpose is inventory accuracy.

The omnichannel experience comes next.

“We find that the consumer wants to be in the physical space to touch and feel the product; you have to try it. But we’re trying to find ways to merge it and allow the consumer to have the same experience whether it’s in-store, whether it’s in a wholesale environment, whether it’s online: having the full experience of ‘a brand and not just have small elements.

Ultimately, the intention is not just to look at this space, but to feel this space.

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