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Inside The Athlete’s Foot’s new flagship in Melbourne Central

Performance footwear retailer The Athlete’s Foot is opening a new flagship in Melbourne Central this week, with an expanded product line and new technology to better suit product to customers’ needs.

Located in the “retail hub of Australia”, the store serves as a road map for The Athlete’s Foot going forward, according to general manager Steve Cohen.

“We have had a few different store evolutions, but it’s been a couple of years now since we’ve really gone out and started again,” Cohen told Inside Retail.

“Being a flagship, it needed to be at the forefront of the performance footwear space. I think our investment in the store, and the way we’ve progressed the whole experience, is leaps and bounds from where we’ve been in the past.”

For the first time, The Athlete’s Foot has ditched the traditional foot measuring tool, the Brannock, in favour of its new MyFit3D measurement technology, which creates a 3D render of a customer’s feet and measures their gait and pressure points within 1mm.

“It gives you a lot more information relating to the consumer’s foot, and it actually ranks their foot relative to the rest of the population,” Cohen said.

“People like hearing about themselves, so when you put them on the MyFit3D and you show them how long, or wide, or deep their foot is compared to the rest of the population, it’s a nice interactive way to engage with the customer.”

With a more accurate measurement, the team in the Melbourne Central store will be able to recommend footwear from its expanded product line, which includes exclusive ranges from Asics and New Balance.

The store also features LED screens that react to consumer behaviour; for instance, by displaying information about a particular shoe after the customer picks it up off the shelf. This keeps customers in the moment, rather than browsing for additional product information on their phones – and potentially purchasing an item online from another retailer.

“The main thing is that we can be a lot more nimble in our messaging to the consumer [about] our new arrivals, or product or brand that we want to call out in store,” Cohen said.

“It’s touch screen as well, so if we decide to go down the path of shopping online or engaging with the consumer from a people point of view we can do that as well.”

The location played a large part in the product line The Athlete’s Foot was able to secure, with suppliers having been asking for a “cutting-edge performance execution” for some time.

“What we’ve found off the back of that is that the suppliers are giving access to product that we might not have had access to, and we think that this is an exciting step forward for our brand,” Cohen said, indicating this access will filter through the rest of the business moving forward.

A taste of things to come

The flagship indicates what The Athlete’s Foot’s store footprint will look like moving forward, according to Cohen, with the MyFit3D technology due to be in all 140 stores in the coming nine months.

The revised store layout on display at Melbourne Central is set to be duplicated in at least 12 stores to be opened across Australia and New Zealand over the following year.

“We’re not going to waste any time once we’ve proved this concept over the next couple of months,” Cohen said.

“I think The Athlete’s Foot hasn’t opened a lot of stores over the last couple of years, and we have the appetite to absolutely get onto the expansion path.

“If [the Melbourne Central flagship] works, and we’re confident that it will work, we see another half dozen of these across Australia and New Zealand pretty quickly… plus another half dozen that we’ve highlighted across the country.”

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