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Nike Brings Innovative Nike+ Basketball Trial Zone to New Soho Store

Spanning nearly an entire half-court and rising 23-feet, the Nike+ Basketball Trial Zone dominates the fifth floor of the new Nike Soho store in New York City.

Within, an adjustable hoop and digital video screen — projecting hallowed NYC courts like those at Dyckman Park in Washington Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park — pair with five sensors, powered by a gaming engine, provide real-time, on-screen feedback for participants’ nine-minute drills. These drills, guided by a trained, in-store basketball store athlete, help consumers understand the benefits of playing in, for example, a KYRIE 2 or Zoom LeBron Soldier 10, through sharp pivots, cuts and more. And with Nike+ app profile integration, participants can save their favorite Nike Basketball and Jordan footwear styles.

The Nike+ Basketball Trial Zone is part of the company’s first Nike+ connected, hyper-local, digitally-powered trials, which debut at Nike Soho. The immersive experiences provide one-of-a-kind opportunities to showcase product benefits that answer each consumer’s individual sport needs, with the help of in-store certified athletes. Trial zones are available with or without an appointment, and visits are tracked through scanning each guest’s Nike+ app pass — displaying his or her name while in action, and documenting the results of the experience for future visits.

“What we’ve done is extremely ambitious for any retailer, dedicating more than 1,000 square feet in the store to Basketball, Running and Soccer trial zones specifically,” says Heidi O'Neill, Nike’s President of Global Direct to Consumer. “This reflects our tremendous commitment to service and innovation in retail.”

To develop all three trial zones, the retail design teams started with mini paper models that became life-size build-outs at the company’s Retail Experience Center, a downtown Portland innovation lab. A combination of athlete and coach feedback, in addition to VR testing for screen and sensor specs, informed the format of the trial exercises and design of the zones.

“A lot of our earlier sport experiences at retail were standalone,” adds O'Neill. “For the first time these trial zones are integrated into membership. They're truly personal, immersive and 365, building on everything we’ve learned from connecting to consumers around the world.”

Such development augmented Nike’s existing Nike+ Running treadmill experience to include an immersive digital screen powered by the same game engine technology and Nike+ integration as the Basketball Trial Zone (on the first floor for women and the third floor for men). Through 90-second run segments, with screen options for Central Park and the West Side Highway, the participant experiences Nike+ Run Club with Nike Pacers and real-time, on-screen feedback via two cameras. Participants can then review footage of, for example, the energy return benefits of a Zoom Air shoe on the iPad of an in-store certified running athlete.

The Nike+ Soccer Trial Zone is a 400-square-foot boot trial area with a synthetic turf field floor. Consumers can trial Nike soccer cleats and receive 1:1 guidance from in-store certified trial athletes on products features and benefits.

“We’ll continue to learn and evolve from what helps the consumer most, add more local environment elements and work to scale this integrated retail journey into future Nike stores,” says O'Neill.

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