Specialist running stores are looking to digital measurement and analytical tools for support with running analyses as the ideal complement to personal consultations. A complete professional running analysis package benefits everyone – consumers, retailers and industry stakeholders – as Christoph Görner, Running Retail Manager at SPORT 2000 GmbH is well aware.
“Specialist stores were already offering their customers camera-based treadmill analyses for shoe purchases 25 years ago,” says Christoph Görner, Running Retail Manager at SPORT 2000 GmbH. But that approach is now somewhat outdated: “People move differently on treadmills than they do on the road. Also, studies have shown that many people – particularly women – feel uncomfortable on a treadmill because they feel like they’re being watched,” explains the running expert. So an increasing number of stores are using running tracks in their analyses.
A new standard: running tracks with analytical software
Running tracks are at least 12 to 15 metres long, equipped with an IP camera with analytical software, and integrated directly into the respective stores. “People run much more naturally and realistically on the ground than they do on a treadmill,” explains Görner. Specialist retailers also work with other analytical tools that apply static and dynamic measuring methods to determine foot shape, shoe size and pressure distribution. In combination with the consultants’ expertise, technical tools and in particular visualizations ensure an impressive shopping experience. Very few customers come to the store with a specific model in mind: “For 95% of sales, we first perform a professional analysis of the customer’s running style and feet.”
Running analyses increase customer satisfaction
The added value for customers is obvious: anyone who goes to a specialist store looking for a good running shoe will immediately feel that their individual needs are being met. “The high-tech analyses form the basis for pinpointing the perfect shoe to recommend,” says Görner. In addition, running analyses increase the likelihood that consumers will be satisfied and return. “An authentic salesperson or experienced consultant inspires total confidence in customers. Then, they may even purchase a shoe from a brand that was previously unknown to them,” Görner says, giving a practical example and then continuing: “If someone decides to buy a particular shoe following an analysis and consultation, there is a good chance that the shoes will also be a great fit and that the customer’s enthusiasm will last.” Görner is convinced that this benefits not just runners themselves, but also retailers and the various brands. “Customers rightly have high expectations of brick-and-mortar expert retailers. These specialist stores set themselves apart from their competitors and especially from online retailers with excellent advice and personalised service. Customers are also willing to spend more money on new running shoes for this overall package.”
Digital tools support personalised advice
Artificial intelligence is already part of high-end running analyses. AI can set the marker points more precisely and derive personalised shoe recommendations on this basis. Christoph Görner believes that the technology presents great opportunities, but also a challenge: ensuring staff keep up with the latest technology through training. He views digital tools as valuable supports and visualisation aids as part of the consultation, which will continue to take place between people into the future. “Although AI is increasingly influencing run analysis, there is a need for experts who can guide this process and interpret it correctly at the POS. All those who work in ABSOLUTE RUN stores are themselves involved in running and so possess in-depth knowledge of the material. Customers‘ individual concerns are taken into account and they are supported in finding the perfect equipment. No computer can replace that.“
ABSOLUTE RUN: the concept for specialist running retailers
Repeat analyses are also worthwhile for regular customers because running style and musculature change over time, and this must be taken into account when selecting the right shoe. Customised insoles can further improve the fit and enhance the running experience. “A consultation lasting about half an hour is therefore standard for our ABSOLUTE RUN retailers when it comes to shoe sales,” says Görner. Looking at the market as a whole in Germany, around 15 out of every 100 running shoes are currently purchased from the specialist bricks-and-mortar running shops organised by SPORT 2000. Expanding this share is a clear goal for SPORT 2000. ABSOLUTE RUN stands for a unique shopping experience with an excellent product range and well-trained employees. In addition to run analyses with personal consultations, SPORT 2000 running specialists also focus on community management with running meets, events, shoe tests, workshops, and other specials depending on location. Through these activities, ABSOLUTE RUN stores are pursuing the clear objective of encouraging customers’ enthusiasm for running in the long term.