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Hyper local: Adidas’s new flagship store in Berlin

By Regina Henkel

Dec 24, 2021


Adidas flagship store Berlin | Photo: Adidas

On 2nd December, Adidas opened its new store concept on 1,400 square metres in Berlin Mitte. It is about much more than just shopping, revealed Hannah Mercer, global retail activation & merchandising head at Adidas, in an exclusive interview with FashionUnited.

Hannah Mercer at the flagship store in Berlin | Photo: Adidas

The new, three-storey Adidas flagship store in Berlin is in many ways a state-of-the-art store concept. All the big trends play a major role here: digitalisation, sustainability, locality, sport and health anyway. But how does the sports giant implement them? “This store is the most interactive one we have ever developed,” explains Hannah Mercer, vice president retail activation & merchandising at Adidas. “It's not about classic retail, transactions and transaction sizes, but about real experiences for consumers, authentically aligned with the city of Berlin.” The flagship store wants to inspire and activate its customers and bring them together as a local community. “Covid has taught us to focus even more on regionality and the people of Berlin. This is probably the most important aspect of the new concept in Berlin.

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Sustainable solutions in store design and sustainability as a message

Anyone entering the new store immediately recognises that natural materials are important here - and plants. There is a lot of wood and natural stone; plant displays are positioned in strategic places in the store to create a connection with nature, but above all “to clean the air,” says Mercer. Recycling also plays an important role. “We always look at the life cycle of materials and how they can be reused.”

Adidas also offers sustainable services for customers and wants to raise awareness of the issue. For example, the Berlin flagship store offers Adidas' first sneaker cleaning service in Germany, a Green Lab for upcycling activities, a Green Ambassador programme and an Experience Room that focuses on the city of Berlin in a variety of ways, including its local sustainability events. “That's the beauty of physical retail, it's a place to connect with our customers and build relationships, especially through our membership programme,” believes Mercer.

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Lots of digital technology - but without the gimmicks

There are 72 digital touchpoints in the new store, “ten of which are interactive,” explains the retail expert. These include, for example, the self-developed six-metre-wide digital shoe wall, which currently focuses on the theme of running. As soon as a customer takes a shoe off the wall, the wall presents information about the shoe. This is made possible by an RFID chip on the shoe.

The new “Bring it to me” service is also interactive, whereby customers can scan any shoe in the store via their phone camera and the Adidas app and order the desired size to try on. Staff will bring the shoe exactly where the customer is, so there is no need to wait at the shelf.

There are also trial room innovations. For example, the background can be changed and the mirrors display information about the products being tried on using RFID technology. However, Mercer does not want all this to be understood as digital gimmicks: “Everything works intuitively and has a real benefit for the consumer,” she says. For example, items matching the product also appear on the mirror in the trial room. “For us, it's about creating unforgettable experiences.”

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Hyperlocality – not only because of Covid

The local focus does not only mean that Berlin as a location plays a role in the store concept - for example by integrating works of local artists. In times like these, when people are travelling less due to the pandemic, it seems only logical for stationary stores to focus on local customers. Adidas also wants to do this, but for strategic reasons. Adidas currently has more than one million community members in Berlin. For them, the store should become a regular meeting place, and of course the community should continue to grow with it.

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“Every new Adidas store is different and is a result of its environment,” says Mercer. “We've learned that we really have to look at the local customer base to be able to develop a successful concept for that location to become a destination there.” The new flagship store, for example, focuses a lot on women and also has an area for children. The basement features the Originals lifestyle floor and a premium department with the Y-3 line. The first floor offers football and running products as well as the new ‘Green Lab’, where sustainable activations take place daily. “We have focused on sports at this location because we are convinced that this will enable our brand to stand out from the competition in Berlin.”

Future retail projects

The Berlin flagship store is just one example of a whole series of new retail projects that Adidas has opened in recent months and is planning in the near future. A few days ago, the first “Adidas Terrex Mountain Loft” flagship store opened in Munich, and the first Adidas Concept Store in Hamburg. A new flagship store is scheduled to open in Moscow in December, and the flagship stores on the Champs Elysées in Paris and Fifth Avenue in New York are also going to be renovated soon. However, Mercer is not yet revealing which new ideas Adidas wants to realise at these prestigious addresses.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.