12 May 2016
When the National Basketball Association (NBA) opened its 18,000 sq ft store in New York in 1998, it was the first major sports league to have a retail outlet. The original store was open for nearly 13 years and attracted millions of customers, yet its only nod to technology was an arena-sized LED video board, and other monitors throughout the store, that aired exclusive footage, NBA TV content and live game broadcasts. It was not until its new flagship opened in December 2015 (following a few years in a much smaller temporary store) that the NBA embraced the digital age.
The starting point for the transformation of the NBA's New York City flagship was that while there were many fans visiting the Fifth Avenue store, the NBA wanted to better integrate its brick-and-mortar location with its social-media-active and international fan base by providing an entertaining, memorable in-store experience and engaging with individual customers that had widely varying wants and needs.
The NBA set out on a journey that would deliver a 'wow factor' in showcasing the league's 30 teams, a seamless multichannel shopping experience, fan engagement through merchandise and an enhanced in-store experience through a combination of digital and non-digital assets.
Even with just a few months' trading behind them, the NBA has seen some immediate wins: there has been a 2x engagement with customers and a notable increase in basket size and conversions; in a 30-day period it also captured 600 email addresses.