Nike steps up its game with a new tech innovation center – RetailWire

Apr 13, 2022

Nike is opening a new hub solely for technological innovation.

The athletic shoe brand will be opening its technology center in early 2023 in Atlanta, GA, according to Engadget. The location will be dedicated to improving the brand’s logistics and supply chain and reimagining the consumer experience with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It will also focus on cybersecurity with a new “command center” for the East Coast. Until the new facility is ready, employees will work remotely.

Nike has been doing more on its own lately, which could be part of the reason it is dedicating such resources to pursuing logistics technology on the cutting edge.

The iconic brand has continued to end or alter its longstanding wholesale relationships with shoe retailers nationwide to focus on direct-to-consumer relationships. In March of 2021, the brand announced it would no longer be selling shoes through DSW, Urban Outfitters, Shoe Show, Dunham’s Sports, Olympia Sports and Big Five, and that it would be removing its branded apparel from Macy’s.

More recently, it began pulling many of its most popular SKUs from Foot Lockerwhich sent the retailer’s stock tumbling.

Even before doubling down on D2C, Nike was emerging as a tech-forward brand. Nike began utilizing augmented reality as part of its mobile app for reimagined shoes “drops” in 2017 and has also been integrating technology into an increasing number of its standalone stores.

The brand last month opened a 5,000 square-foot Nike Live concept store in Houston, TX, according to the Houston Chronicle. the store, like the other Nike Live locations placed in major US cities since 2018, allows shoppers to interact with store staff and check on product availability through the brand’s apps.

Nike, at the end of last year, acquired virtual shoe store RTFKT Studios, according to The Verge. RTFKT purports to have made $3.1 million in six minutes through a promotion selling NFTs in conjunction with real sneakers.

The athletic wear giant has taken other steps into the metaverse as well, like a branded virtual world on the Roblox platform.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think a center geared toward supply chain, artificial intelligence and security tech is a worthwhile investment for Nike? Is this type of operation something that all major consumer brands need at this point in time?

Braintrust

“It’s a competitive advantage, but maybe more importantly, it’s a pioneering effort that many brands and retailers will learn from.”

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