The Run Genie gait analysis tool by Adidas was designed to help runners find the right shoe, but how would it fit into the retail experience?
There’s simply no substitute for the expertise of an informed and experienced sales associate.
We designed an app that struck the right balance between human expertise and digital support.
Adidas has implemented Run Genie as a premier retail experience at many of the company’s global flagship stores. Adidas has long been a trailblazer when it comes to sports innovations. With Run Genie, a digital gait analysis tool, the company stepped up its commitment to runners by helping them find the most supportive shoes for their specific stride and step. Once customers snap the tool’s “shoe pods” to their laces, these Bluetooth-enabled sensors can collect deep data on their gait in a mere forty steps, resulting in a sneaker recommendation of pinpoint accuracy. But before deploying Run Genie in stores, Adidas hired our team to help integrate this powerful technology into its sales associates’ interactions with customers, so that it wouldn’t wind up as a crutch for associates or a distraction for customers. “With certain experiences about fit, feel and performance, there’s no substitute for a human expert.”
- Scott Brown, Executive Creative Director
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We dove into research, interviewing sales associates and runners to get to know their processes and needs. One insight emerged as a guiding truth for our work: there’s simply no substitute for the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced associate. Because runners trust other runners, our approach would need to strike the right balance between human expertise and digital support. This led us to create comprehensive journey maps for associates to help us understand all the touchpoints and interactions that define their sales process and begin to identify an ideal flow. By role playing with actual associates, we were able to assess the accuracy of our preliminary ideas and refine our interface designs for the companion app. We wanted to allow the associate to drive the experience, while the app surfaced the right sales support at the right time. The resulting interface presented the customer with a clear and digestible view of the data Run Genie collects, while allowing sales associates to remain the trusted experts. As we saw it, Run Genie wasn’t created to dictate an associate’s recommendation, but to validate it. Our design for the app was clean, simple and built on the Adidas brand’s DNA. It included intuitive graphs that delivered high-level insights to customers, with the option to focus on the visualizations and receive deeper explanations about, say, the difference between supination and pronation, as well as suggesting shoes for whatever kind of gait Run Genie detected. All of this information is displayed transparently, visually emphasizing how the information the customer provides directly impacts the recommendations.
A test run
Once we’d received approval on our designs, brought to life through motion studies and prototyping, we took the app to the Adidas employee store in Portland for a test run. With a small group of Adidas employees roleplaying as sales associates and shoppers, we were able to learn what was working and why. For example, seeing associates in action showed us that we needed to make it easier for them to jump in and out of different customer flows, since they were usually assisting multiple shoppers at once. So we adjusted the app to accommodate multiple flows simultaneously, allowing associates to toggle between customer journeys and seamlessly jump back into previous flows.
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Digital hits its stride
An Adidas organizational goal is “digital transformation,” or leveraging technology to forge stronger relationships with its customers. Run Genie — which has been installed in many of the company’s flagship stores, from New York City to several German locations — embodies that ambition perfectly, using technology to help shoppers find the right footwear and become better athletes. But, as we learned, there’s no replacing the trusted advice of an expert, so we left ample room in our designs to showcase one of the most valuable sales assets Adidas possesses: its associates’ athletic expertise.