Electronics

Video: Gizmag visits "the most digitally advanced retail experience in the world"

Video: Gizmag visits "the most...
The entrance to the new high-tech SportChek flagship store
The entrance to the new high-tech SportChek flagship store
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The interactive wayfinder, that uses maps and images to guide customers to different sections of the store
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The interactive wayfinder, that uses maps and images to guide customers to different sections of the store
One of the display boxes, that superimposes electronic content over top of a view of the actual product
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One of the display boxes, that superimposes electronic content over top of a view of the actual product
The gait analysis center, where customers can see exactly how they move while wearing different types of footwear
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The gait analysis center, where customers can see exactly how they move while wearing different types of footwear
The gait analysis center's screen, displaying footage from the two cameras
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The gait analysis center's screen, displaying footage from the two cameras
One of the touchscreens that identifies customers' products by their RFID tags, and then displays interactive content accordingly
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One of the touchscreens that identifies customers' products by their RFID tags, and then displays interactive content accordingly
The community center, where staff help customers look up information on local sports activities and events
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The community center, where staff help customers look up information on local sports activities and events
The Wintersteiger Mercury ski and snowboard-tuning machine
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The Wintersteiger Mercury ski and snowboard-tuning machine
A close view of a snowboard going through the Wintersteiger
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A close view of a snowboard going through the Wintersteiger
The screen of the Tacx virtual reality bicycle trainer
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The screen of the Tacx virtual reality bicycle trainer
The Tacx virtual reality bicycle trainer, that lets customers try out real bikes on computer-generated roads or trails
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The Tacx virtual reality bicycle trainer, that lets customers try out real bikes on computer-generated roads or trails
The Climbstation vertical treadmill, for trying out climbing gear
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The Climbstation vertical treadmill, for trying out climbing gear
A projection mapping system that displays custom-designed content on a mannequin
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A projection mapping system that displays custom-designed content on a mannequin
The Silver Crystal custom jersey kiosk allows customers to create their own unique jerseys
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The Silver Crystal custom jersey kiosk allows customers to create their own unique jerseys
Swing Catalyst video analysis software assesses customers' swings
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Swing Catalyst video analysis software assesses customers' swings
The FlightScope virtual golf green, which is used in conjunction with the Swing Catalyst software
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The FlightScope virtual golf green, which is used in conjunction with the Swing Catalyst software
The camp stove testing area features a retractable ventilation fan, making it safe to fire up the stoves indoors
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The camp stove testing area features a retractable ventilation fan, making it safe to fire up the stoves indoors
One of the giant projection screens, known as "The Monolith"
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One of the giant projection screens, known as "The Monolith"
The entrance to the new high-tech SportChek flagship store
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The entrance to the new high-tech SportChek flagship store

Every year, IBM releases a list of tech trends that it predicts will have a major affect on our lives over the next five years. In its most recent list, the company made the rather surprising prediction that physical retail shops will become much more popular than internet-based stores. They'll do so utilizing technologies that offer customers a more immersive, interactive shopping experience than they could get simply sitting at their computer. Canada's FGL Sports must be eager to usher in that new age of shopping, as it just opened what it describes as "the most digitally advanced and personalized retail experience in the world." That experience takes the form of the new 80,000 sq ft (7,432 sq m) SportChek sporting goods store, located in Edmonton, Alberta's West Edmonton Mall.

As far as the world record claim goes, it really comes down to numbers. Among other things, the flagship store features over 800 screens displaying 220 channels worth of information, over 1,200 sq ft (111 sq m) of digitally-projected content, and 250 staff to help customers use the interactive technology. "With extensive reviews of retail all over the globe by our executive, marketing teams and store operations team, there is nothing out there that integrates this many elements in a bricks and mortar environment," Matt Dellandrea, FGL's Manager of Product Training told us.

Some specific examples of those elements include ...

  • Large-format touchscreen displays that detect RFID tags on merchandise, so they can present information on products that customers are holding
  • Transparent boxes that display tangible products, but with animated informational text and graphics overlaid on the front panel
  • A gait analysis center, that electronically assesses how customers walk and run while wearing different types of footwear
  • Simulator areas that let customers try out golf clubs, bicycles, and climbing gear (the latter utilizing a Climbstation vertical treadmill)
  • A community center, where staff help customers use a large-format touchscreen to look up information on local sports clubs and events
One of the display boxes, that superimposes electronic content over top of a view of the actual product
One of the display boxes, that superimposes electronic content over top of a view of the actual product

Anyhow, you get the idea. You can see a more extensive listing of the technologies in our photo gallery, plus you can check out some of the more eye-catching examples in our video tour of the store, at the bottom of the page.

Given that the new SportChek location opened just a week ago, it will be interesting to see how things work out. It's definitely ambitious, although it can't be cheap to run – and the West Ed Mall has certainly seen its share of other big, ambitious retail experiments that came and went. In any case, if IBM is to be believed, the flagship store does offer us a sneak peek at the direction in which all shops may ultimately be heading.

Gizmag pays a visit to SportChek's new high-tech flagship store

4 comments
hungrygiraffe
Meh, i can imagine no American company investing this much for retail stores. Probably looking into automation tech, rather than show off tech like this.
L1ma
Not quite Minority Report yet, almost.
Joe Nordgaard
Yeah but can they 3D print a tailored running shoe? (just kidding but then again...)
Austin Troya
I can see retailers using some of this...they're already making all of their price tags digital in some places like Kohls and JC Penny. Why not showcase high end or new products with OLED screens?