Meanwhile, female customers browsed the expanded womenswear area featuring new on-trend activewear brands, digital screens and spacious redesigned changerooms, now including three types of variable lighting. At the customisation zone, shoppers were selecting graphics for their t-shirts and checking out the latest LeBron sneakers at the innovation zone.
“It is our vision to inspire all Australians to chase their sporting dreams and passion, and the Rebel Parramatta store is a testament to that vision,” explained managing director Gary Williams.
“Parramatta is the second Rebel concept store of its kind. It is designed to inspire customers through a purpose-built sports store environment, including sporting experiences, exclusive products and rebel experts to help every step of the way.”
‘You couldn’t have launched a store at a worse time’
Development of the RCX store concept first began two years ago, when the team at Nike came on board to offer their insights and support to the Rebel team. No-one could have guessed that the very first RCX store would launch in mid-March at the peak of the pandemic.
While Williams admits that “you couldn’t have launched the store at a worse time”, he noticed interesting changes in consumer behaviour as a result of the new experiential innovations the business now offers, particularly in the way females shop. Indeed, after years of neglecting their women shoppers, they are now a key focus for Rebel in the future.
“We saw significant volume uplift for [women]. We were generally travelling at 65:35 male: female. Then we started seeing a 50:50 shift, then 55 per cent was for her, then it went to 60:40,” Williams told Inside Retail.
“What we’ve gotten wrong [in the past] is how she shops. Now we’re bringing in the right fixtures, fittings and adjacencies. Before, we were just ‘pack it high, stack it high’. No. She wants to shop an experience, and it will allow her to both shop online and come into the store.”
The women’s department at Rebel now features an ever-changing range of on-trend brands like PE Nation and Jaggad and a size-inclusive range of mannequins, as well as new changerooms, which now feature variable lighting, flicking between outdoor, yoga studio and gym lighting. It has also been strategically placed adjacent to the kids’ section for busy mums to easily shop between the two departments, explained Williams.
The Rebel team at the Doncaster store also experienced a “massive” conversion rate increase when it relaunched.
“As much as traffic was significantly down, our conversion rates were significantly up over any other metrics we’ve ever experienced. They’ve converted at extremely high ratios, they’re company records for us because we’ve never seen conversion rates that high,” Williams said.
“The average transaction value (ATV) went up. Instead of her just buying shoes, she was buying gym gear and health and wellness equipment. We saw the ATV go up quite significantly. I’d be lying if I said sales volumes are where we want them to be, they’re not – but we’re proud of those metrics.”
Experience is still the name of the game
While social distancing and lockdown may have thrown a spanner in the works during the initial launch of Rebel’s RCX store, based on customer feedback, Williams is certain that in-store experience and interactivity are key to the future of store design.
“We listened to our customers and they said the one thing they wanted to do more than anything else was to be able to experience a $350 boot before they buy it and this allows them to do that,” he said of the new football pitch.
“Nike were working side by side with us as to what was going on globally and where sport chains are going in retail and what they need to do to transform their experience…[Our] team went over to Brazil, saw what they’ve done there and [found that] the general uplift that multibrand sporting retailers are getting is about 40 per cent growth when they enhance their experiences.”
Indeed, Nike itself is continuing to invest in its own bricks-and-mortar stores, with the creation of its House of Innovation, Rise and Live store concepts in recent years. In July, its third digitally-connected House of Innovation was launched on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, offering a suite of Nike App in-store services, an interactive kids gaming area, and even a bra-fitting service based on machine learning algorithms.
“The future of retail is still high touch. Even though we’re in a ‘post-Covid’ world, we will not be successful if we put up sterile retail stores for our customers – they’ll stay home and we won’t deserve their business in physical stores,” said Danny Lattouf, partner and chief strategy officer at creative agency The General Store, which began working on the store concept with Rebel and Nike in January.
“Customers are yearning for great experiences and it’s our responsibility to bring it to them. Whilst convenience has risen to an even higher degree of importance in recent times, we must pair that with differentiated experiences that provide a real value exchange for people’s time, energy and attention – enter Rebel RCX.”
Categories of the future
While the new RCX store was opened with much fanfare in Parramatta yesterday, Williams admitted that there’s more to come in the future when stores begin rolling across the nation.
“We’ve understood the importance of the diversity of our portfolio. Footwear is key to the shopper here. Apparel continues to grow exponentially. The growth has been critical to where we are today,” he said, adding that health and wellbeing is another developing category .
“We have realised that health and wellbeing is a critical component for themselves as humans. Everyone talked about toilet paper at Woolies, but we had the same impact with weights – people were buying weights like you would not believe. This has gone from weights to stretching pieces, then to the smart watches, then to people doing their own studios and buying equipment. We see it as a growth corridor.”
In the future, Williams is also considering the potential services that could be added to help support the health and wellness category at Rebel, hinting that nutrition may be the next step forward.
“As an athlete, I know that eating is more important than physical training, so what does that mean for us and where does that category go? We’re now working on that and from our side, I’m really excited about where that goes. We have a strong brand, we’re trusted and we can build on that, but we need a credible offer, a credible assortment and make sure we are experts.”