Located in what used to be a rooftop parking area, a floor above where its old store had been for years, the new Chatswood store takes all of Rebel’s feedback and learnings from the Bondi store – its first ‘accelerate’ store – a step further.
And it’s all about using technology. In Chatswood, a huge, 36-metre front shop front and window overhangs a void of five stories. Its gridded, 3200 individually lit and programed solid acrylic cylinders greet the shopper from the floor below. A first of its kind, its content can be changed and managed from head office with the flick of a switch – or a few switches.
The large screen inside the entrance of the store and its audio give the shopper the feeling of entering a “Rebel stadium of sport” with professional sports stars. There’s also an interactive screen inside that allows the shopper to stop a ball in the stadium and other screens that show various sports games being played around the country.
“From Bondi, we learnt how to better deploy our digital infrastructure to be more cost-effective, reliable and durable behind the scenes,” said Wayne Tozer, executive general manager – retail, Super Retail Group, Rebel Sport’s Queensland-based parent company.
“We can deploy content to those screens from head office that is relevant to that particular market, based on the store’s customer demographics or related to the local sports team. So, for example, rather than, sending content about the Brisbane Broncos en masse to all stores, we can target it to a store where the team’s supporters shop.”
Also new only to the accelerate stores are some store-in-store concepts – for example, for football and basketball.
Solutions over selling
In the Chatswood store, which had a low key opening on Thursday a fortnight ago, Rebel has moved away from the self-service footwear sales model, where the customer comes in, looks for a shoe, finds the right size and its box and takes it to the till. It now has what it calls a “full-service footwear” model.
“In these stores, we are starting to move towards finding solutions for customers, not just selling products,” Tozer told Inside Retail Weekly.
“We’ve looked at having podiatrists and personal trainers in the store. We have team members in the store that meet and greet you and assist you if you are leaving and couldn’t locate what you were looking for. We are extending our offer to be more of a holistic solution than just a place to come into to buy a pair of shoes. And we’ve deployed some new footwear technology to measure your feet for the right shoes in these two stores.”
Each accelerate store employs a full-time visual merchandiser, which allows Rebel to use its new mannequin technique and fixtures to showcase products and brands.
“The Chatswood design theme and concept stays consistent from where we started at Bondi – that is, to create a place where shoppers and customers can be immersed in sports,” said Danny Lattouf, managing director of Ideaworks, which designed both accelerate stores for Rebel.
On the challenges of designing the impressive shopfront, Lattouf explained, “The Westfield design team challenged Rebel and Ideaworks to propose a creative solution for the entire length of the area overlooking the centre. The opportunity was to deliver an installation that would extend the shop front by 36 metres and create a platform for something truly special.
“This was not to be a billboard, of sorts. It was an opportunity for Rebel, but it still had to respect the shared environment and relationship with the other retailers. We needed to delicately balance the proposition of being subtle and impactful at the same time. It had to tell our Rebel story, while also improving the overall look and feel of the entire space it occupied.
“It had to deliver on requirements on several levels – Westfield specifications, Rebel brand, purpose and function, and it had to be iconic in its own right.
“The end result is exceptionally flexible and we’ll be looking to work with Rebel and have some fun with it over time. With it now up and running, we can test different things and amplify its impact and association with the stories we’re telling throughout the store.”
A welcome change
Surveys suggest that customers are appreciating and embracing the new model Rebel Sport stores at both Chatswood and Bondi Junction.
“We surveyed our customers using a net promoter score model and we’ve already seen in the early phases of both Bondi and Chatswood that the customer response to these stores is significantly greater than to our old stores,” he explained. “They are finding the experience more engaging across the metrics we measure and we are finding that our teams are enjoying working in those stores as well.
“The change has also provided a lot of input into our network in terms of digital strategies, how we can deploy them, manage them and evolve them as we go. There have been terrific learnings along the way.”
Tozer expects to have four accelerate stores open across the country by the end of next year, the first of which will be in Miranda. The concept will then be strategically retrofit ted into existing Rebel stores.
“We think Miranda will be a step up again with the learnings we will get out of Chatswood,” said Tozer.
“Then we will look to take the technology, services and solutions we’ve employed in those stores and, where it makes sense, to roll these back into our fleet. We will keep these four stores evolving and leading the pack in terms of new things as we keep growing.”
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