Nike Launches Community-Minded ‘Unite’ Stores With Digital Focus

Nike Unite Stores

Nike continues its sprint into the digital-first world with Nike Unite stores, with nine locations slated to be in operation this year. In a news release, Nike said the new program is built around offering “new in- and out-of-store experiences” and catering to local interests.

The sneaker maker said the program will feature store designs “intended to reflect the community.” As an example, fitting rooms will feature local maps showing “how consumers can explore their surroundings.”

In addition, the stores will feature such particulars as landmarks, hometown athletes, area partnerships and design elements that reflect the local area. Each individual store’s products will be “locally curated” to reflect the community’s interests.

The company also noted that its Nike Community Ambassador program trains Nike store employees to be coaches.

There are currently five Nike Unite stores located in South Korea, the United Kingdom, San Antonio, East New York and Portland, Oregon. In the works are stores in Chicago, Atlanta and two in Beijing, China.

Nike has been rolling out a number of new marketing concepts. In one example, a midtown Manhattan store, dubbed “House of Innovation 000,” takes up six stories (including a below-street-level floor) and covers more than 68,000 square feet on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. The company said that this Nike NYC store has introduced the Nike Speed Shop, “an entire floor that uses local data to stock its shelves and re-stock them based on what the community wants.”

Nike reported that its first quarter for fiscal 2021 (ending Aug. 31) saw revenues of $10.6 billion, down 1 percent from the same period the previous year. However, the quarter saw Nike’s digital sales leap by 82 percent, while digital sales for women’s apparel spiked 200 percent.

“We know that digital is the new normal. The consumer today is digitally grounded and simply will not revert back,” said Nike CEO John Donahoe on an earnings call. His comment came as Nike showed profits despite the tight margins associated with digital sales operations.

“We are seeing a benefit from increased digital penetration on our margins,” added Matthew Friend, Nike’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.