News Feature | March 20, 2014

Ugg Parent Deckers Opens Omni-Channel "Innovation Lab" Store

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By Anna Rose Welch, Director, Cell & Gene Collaborative
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Deckers Innovation Lab Store

Company implements innovative new technology to blur the lines between physical retail, e-commerce

Deckers Outdoors, parent company to popular shoe brands Ugg Australia, Sanuk, and Teva, has opened its first brick-and-mortar store next to its new Goleta headquarters. While this new store will be the first location to feature all seven of the company’s brands under one roof, the real hype about the opening has to do with its technology offerings. These new technological investments were made to highlight the store’s role as an “innovation lab” and to emphasize the company’s devotion to improving its omni-channel strategy.   

According to Dave Powers, Deckers’ president of omni-channel, “Our new store will serve as the showcase for all of Deckers’ brands and our expression of next generation retail. With the launch of this ‘innovation lab,’ we’re better able to listen to customers’ feedback, make product and service adjustments more efficiently, and heighten the overall customer experience.”

One of these new innovative features includes a bank of eight iPads that allows customers to order out-of-stock items online and have them shipped for free. One wall comes quipped with a large touchscreen that enables shoppers to customize their new footwear and have the items delivered. The store also aims to use technology to inform more customers about its lesser-known brands. Currently, only Ugg, Sanuk, and Teva have dedicated brick-and-mortar stores, the Los Angeles Times says in an article about this new store. Display areas have been equipped with tablets providing descriptions, videos, and other forms of content to educate customers about some of Deckers’ lesser-known brands, such as Hoka One One.

Deckers has seen a lot growth lately, reporting its best sales record ever in its most recent quarter. Revenue was up by 19 percent, reaching $736 million. This success is being attributed to strong sales at Ugg, especially as customers sought holiday gifts and warm clothing during this particularly frigid winter. Sales for Ugg alone rose 18 percent to roughly $691 million, according to Fierce Retail. In fact, Ugg stores were recently in the news because they implemented VeriFone mobile retailing hardware and software. With these mobile devices, store associates were able to sell items from the sales floor and complete online orders for out-of-stock goods.  

While this innovative Goleta building will be equipped with an ample number of employees and more than 1,000 products for sale, the company isn’t looking at this new space as a revenue booster. Rather, it aims to have this new location serve as a testing ground for new technologies and selling strategies. As more companies begin investing in store improvements to blend the physical and online channels, Deckers also sees this new store as the new base camp to build up the company’s omni-channel strategy.  Deckers CEO Angel Martinez says, “There’s an omni-channel revolution going on. This is an experimental place — the objective for this store is not the same as the other stores in our fleet.”

This new experiment to blur the channels comes at a good time, considering the company reported a 34 percent surge in e-commerce sales during its fourth quarter. Online sales, which reach $117 million, outpaced retail store performance, the LA Times says.

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