Retail Insider reported that Sport Chek will be launching a new women-only concept store at Chinook Centre in Calgary. Clothing will be merchandised by sport, there will be certain brands available at the concept store (and not at regular Sport Cheks), and a separate a bra section complete with fitters. If the concept proves successful, more locations will be rolled out across Canada.
Techy or Gimmicky?
The new concept store will employ expected tactics like one-on-one bra fittings by specialists, as well as borrow the personal shopper idea from high-end department stores, and the Community Manager role from Lululemon. The store also gets techy with a digital bra selector and a medical motion gait analysis treadmill.
I’m a runner myself and I’ve been gotten my gait analyzed by a physiotherapist before, and that involved doing exercises beforehand to figure out flexibility and strength in certain areas before doing a treadmill video. At the very least, I’d be interested enough to check out this motion anlaysis treadmill.
All About the “Experience”
Kara Anastasiadis, Associate VP of Merchandise Strategy for Sport Chek’s parent company said that this new female-targeted concept store is “all about the experience.”
“It’s all about the experience,” said Ms. Anastasiadis, who explained how Sport Chek wants to connect with the female consumer in a comprehensive way with the new store concept, and how its detail-oriented design is expected to resonate with the target demographic. – Retail Insider
Doug Stephens of the Retail Prophet argues there are 5 elements of remarkable retail experiences: Engaging, Unique, Personalized, Surprising, and Repeatable. I don’t think a an experience can be surprising and repeatable, I’d suggest replacing Surprising with Delightful and Repeatable with Consistency. Regardless, I have a hunch this new women-only concept will be unique, personalized, and even engaging depending on how customers take to the tech tactics. As for surprising and repeatable, that’s up to the staff training and the personalities of the staff themselves.
Lululemon or Sport Chek?
Ever since Christine Day left, I haven’t been as interested in Lululemon’s product selection. It could be because she introduced new non-yoga categories, and in my mind that was fresh! new! innovative! Still, I regularly step into Lulu stores whereas with Sport Check I only go when I need something specific, usually running shoes.
It seems apparent that Sport Check is going after Lulu’s share of the market. The Motely Fool sure thinks so, as Sport Chek’s market is predominantly male, while Lulu’s is mostly female. But will they be able to convert die-hard Lulu fans? Probably not, but for those of us who feel Lulu’s not so much a niche brand anymore, rather more of a mass market brand, there will be the appeal of The Other. That’s partly why I gave Under Armour a chance, and started buying more than just sports bras from Nike.
Feminism and Fitness
With feminism being such a hot topic in the media these days (thank you, Emma Watson), it’s great timing for companies to focus on women. Walking into a female-only fitness clothing store wouldn’t be any different from going to a female-only work wear store, so I can’t see any potential downsides. The only thing would be if it came off disingenuous, but this is supposed to be a store that’s “designed by women, for women.”
It will be interesting to see Sport Chek roll out these stores across the country. I foresee them coming to the major cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal after the initial test market in Calgary. And who knows, maybe aside from Lulu, this will be one of the top-of-mind fitness retailers for Canadian women.
Photos supplied by FGL/Sport Chek, and taken from Retail Insider.