Over the last few months, three major sport brands – Decathlon, Go Sport and Adidas – have brought new retail concepts in Paris. As the sport French market is still dominated by price-oriented and private label champion Decathlon, it is insightful to see how the other competitors react.
DECATHLON, the French leading sport apparel retailer has opened its biggest store (54,000 sq ft) in Paris inner city. Located North East of the capital, in the new Rosa Parks neighborhood, Decathlon is supposed to be one of the main traffic builders of a new open air shopping mall due to be completed by the end of the year.
GO SPORT, the French runner-up sporting goods retailer has remodeled its new flagship store in revamped Forum des Halles gigantic shopping mall in central Paris.
ADIDAS has totally renewed its flagship store on the Champs-Elysées to deliver a retail environment where both the “sport performance” and “lifestyle” product lines are equally showcased.
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1 – ADIDAS FLAGSHIP STORE: IT IS ALL ABOUT EXPERIENCE
Adidas has rolled out its brand new “Home Court” concept in Paris. Adidas has designed a minimalist, chic and urban store. Rough walls combined with waxed concrete floor and wood and metal furniture are perfectly brought together. The lighting is beautiful and efficient.
Visual merchandising is just great: the mannequins are exactly set the way professional sportsmen technically move and behave, the displays are elegant, creative but simple. The signage system is beautiful as well, using a stencil technique (and a beautiful font too) to print a few essential messages.
Digital devices are also available to help customers access shoe details and technical specifications.
A series of kiosks are located randomly throughout the store. A print shop, a sneaker customization service and a click and collect counter show that the brand and the store are using innovation to drive their customer service.
The remarkable thing about this is that Adidas did not try to introduce catchy and spectacular features to draw visitor’s attention. It is more subtle and complex than that. I have the feeling that each square meter of the store tells the right and coherent story about Adidas brand DNA and its range of products. And, at the end of the day, the result is efficient and convincing.
2 – GO SPORT STILL SHOWS SOME HESITATIONS
Should GoSport compete by their discounting their own brand or by favoring large international brand assortments? Still no clear answers. In store, products and brand are showcased in a really conventional way. No surprises whatsoever.
Whilst brands are merged into a conventional merchandising, Nike is the only one major sports brand to stand out. The brand has obviously partnered at the earliest stage with Go Sport to enhance the sections where the brand plays a leading role.
I feel that the shop would have brought a bolder experience if the merchandising had played with different heights and various podiums. Better looking mannequins would have helped too (like in the Adidas flagship store for example).
When Go Sport promotes shoes at bargain prices, the setting is not really spectacular.
Go Sport has introduced its new Bike section brand Bike + into its flagship. Besides selling bikes, Bike+ provides shoppers with a very useful repair and maintenance services.
Go Sport has designed really fancy tills. The path to purchase is clear and comfortable.
The sustainability challenge
3 – DECATHLON, THE DISCOUNT SPORT HYPERMARKET
What striked me most at first glance was the width of the aisles. You can easily figure out that the store is huge. Ready to host big flows of shoppers (when the whole shopping mall is complete).
Decathlon made it very easy for shoppers to navigate in the store and find the sections they are looking for. The signage is both really visible and conveys a discount image.
Where Decathlon makes the difference is on helping its customers to find the products that closely fit their sporting activity intensity. Whether you work out occasionally, regularly or intensively, you will find what suits you most. Clever and convenient.
Private labels are – like in every Decathlon store – prominent. When they rarely have to compete with international brands, Decathlon does its best to showcase them while international brands are intentionally “downgraded”.
Specs and functionalities explanations are straightforward and useful. Decathlon knows how to empower its customers to lead them to the right choice (AKA its private labels)