Last week Nike decided to move away from selling on Amazon. At the same time, the brand is doubling down on an innovation team housed in a shiny new space in New York City.
On the same day Nike announced a massive change in its e-commerce strategy--it's pulling its products from Amazon--the athletic brand showed off a shiny new satellite office space on the border of the financial district of New York City. While at first sight the news might not seem related, both moves represent how the company is trying to rethink the future of the business.
Nike’s SNKRS app has revolutionised the way consumers buy and interact with sneakers, and we expect it to continue to evolve thanks to the construction of the new S23NYC Studio. Designed to foster the app’s progression, the state-of-the-art facility – located in New York City’s South Street Seaport – 24,000-square-foot office boasts reclaimed basketball court floors, artwork from local artists, a picturesque view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and lots of airy, open workspace. In a first-ever for Nike, teams won't be siloed off into their respective departments. The footwear and apparel product design room, for instance, is open to whomever wants to use it.
According to Ron Faris, VP of Nike SNKRS, the next phase of the app is focused on prediction. With years of information from the millions of user sessions, the 65-strong SNKRS team is aiming to create a custom strategy to serve the community.
Before leading s23NYC, Faris was the founder and CEO of Virgin Mega, a small tech startup within Richard Branson's Virgin Group that Nike acquired in 2016 precisely to rethink Nike's consumer shopping experience. Although Nike already had a large team of in-house marketers and partnered agencies, Faris and his team were dedicated to experimenting with ways to better connect with sneakerheads--those passionate about buying, collecting, and selling sneakers.
Farris, who has over 15 years experience leading creative teams, says the new space will facilitate a kind of collaboration that hasn't typically happened at Nike. For example, when his team goes through strategic planning, he invites the whole studio into workshops, and then pairs people up--a footwear designer with a QA tester, or an iOS engineer with a product marketer. He wants an unlikely combination of voices to help shape the roadmap and product features. As Nike ditches Amazon and doubles down on its direct-to-consumer retail strategy, listening to key voices--both of its employees and its customers--is going to be even more critical.
"That safe space really comes into place," Faris said, "giving and empowering everyone with a voice."