Do run in this store – then buy the shoes online

SHANGHAI – In the Frame #117, we explore the Fashion of Fitness: how aspects of health and wellbeing are entering more and more industries, from the workplace to hospitality

At the Infinity Plaza Shopping Centre, Runner Camp takes on the trend by combining the best of online and offline retail experiences. Customers enter the first floor for a shoe consultation service; they can try on the shoes and test them out in the experience area to get a real feel of their performance. Then things move online. Purchases are made on iPads provided in-store, and customers can leave unencumbered by boxes or shopping bags while their new sportswear is being delivered directly to their doorsteps.

Photo Makoto Adachi

Photo Makoto Adachi

‘Customers want everything nowadays,’ says Tomohiro Katsuki, founder and executive creative director of Prism Design Consulting Shanghai. ‘In China, O2O business is the latest trend. With electronic payment systems like Alipay and WeChat Pay, nobody uses cash anymore. Everyone comes and goes freely between the online and offline worlds. So both experiences need to be special, connected by one story.’

Designed by Prism Design in collaboration with Office Coastline, the Runner Camp store is part of the new wave of retail spaces that incorporate e-commerce as seamlessly as something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie.

While for readers in the west, the Amazon Go concept stores may come to mind, in China, Alibaba’s Hema supermarket is already functioning in 13 locations – with mobile leading the shopping experience.

O2O refers to business strategies that transfer customers from online to offline – but Runner Camp brings the customer journey full circle, from offline to online, back to offline. There is a gym and training centre on the second floor of the space, which is accessed via the floating metal staircase in brand-orange. (‘We were inspired by the industrial materials prevalent in Shanghai’s cityscape; it’s almost like going lightly from the heights of the Pudong area to the Puxi area,’ says Katsuki.)

So once customers have received their purchases, they can return to Runner Camp to enjoy the specialized running facilities; which include an interactive LED group exercise area, as well as the compulsory treadmills and weight equipment, a locker room and showers.

Photo Makoto Adachi

Photo Makoto Adachi

‘Including the trial and training spaces in the store decreases the size of the retail area. But sales can be done online – so product stock can be minimized, and you can promote sales more efficiently using digital platforms,’ says Katsuki. ‘In this modern era, sales will not improve if a space only serves one function. That is why most physical stores are in trouble, as more and more purchases are done online. Creating an experience that the internet cannot provide is important for physical stores.’

‘In Runner Camp, all the necessary elements for running are provided in one platform. This is the latest approach in China.’

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