Empowering the customer to explore his or her running needs was at the top of the design brief when Green Room Design (Birmingham, U.K.) was approached to devise a digital journey for ASICS’ flagship store in Brussels.
“Our job was to define a new digital experience strategy that could be piloted and refined in the Brussels flagship store,” Green Room’s Digital Director Andrew Bowyer explains. “The name ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase, anima sana in corpore sano, which translates as ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.’ The retail team had already committed to reconnecting their store format to this core belief; to create a space that focuses on well-being.”
It was also critical that this journey could be rolled out across other locations, streamlining the experience. “ASICS had already selected the location for a new store and made the decision to launch the new format here,” Bowyer says. “Part of our design brief included the provision for a fully adaptable program that could be easily applied to other sites and, despite a few late design changes, our workarounds were relatively easy.”
Relating to the customer played a crucial role in how this tech experience developed. “It was important to establish a digital personality for the concept,” says Bowyer. “How does it feel to interact with ASICS? What is the right role for the brand to play in the buying decision? How does the brand talk in terms of digital experiences? We started, as we always do, by looking deeply at the customer’s physical and emotional journey.”
With this in mind, the design team aimed to create a concept that would fuse the brand’s online and in-store experiences, accomplished by implementing consistent, digital components when relevant, he says.
With the very nature of fitness being tailored to the individual, it’s a market that demands interaction between the customer and the choices on offer. The final design not only facilitates and enhances the customer’s buying power, it also aims to connect the local running community. Its Runkeeper wall displays animation and social media posts, while interactive touchpads present a digital footwear selection process to browsing shoppers.
“We worked to expose the life and energy of local runners, using real-time data from the ASICS-owned Runkeeper app to generate intriguing theater pieces that attract and engage customers,” Bowyer says. “This is complemented by applications that allow runners to build a running profile for their own style and objectives. They can then discover their perfect running shoe, ranked for suitability and each one provided with pros and cons, before locating it on an interactive, illuminated shoe wall.”
Shrubbery adorns some of the lighting fixtures in the space, a nod to running’s best venue: the great outdoors. Inspirational signage and retro running posters also sit alongside the tech. “Everything is fresh, clean and simple. The pace and intensity of the content is suited to the store journey, leaving the customer feeling inspired and informed,” says Bowyer.
Indeed, the placement of the digital screens creates a very clear route to purchase, with touchpads located between the shoe display and the cashwrap. “Customers who are not ready to buy receive links to their perfect shoes by email, so they can continue their shopping journey on their own terms,” Bowyer says.
And, in the digital age, perhaps it’s this seamless route from in store to online and back again that’s the secret to success.
Photography: Maarten Sundermann, Amsterdam