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Adidas pursues rival Nike with in-store personalisation and manufacturing

Adidas is allowing shoppers to have products designed, specially fitted and manufactured in-store all within a matter of hours as part of a major personalisation drive intended to respond to changing fashion trends and help close the gap on Nike.

The German sports brand is working on several initiatives to cut the time it takes to get new designs into stores and subsequently strengthen its profit margins.

It has begun testing a new in-store strategy which encompasses the entire production cycle, from design to finished product, all within four hours. The move is a significant step up from the current 12 to 18 months taken to get new products into stores.

The latest initiative took place at a pop-up store in Berlin where customers were given the opportunity to design their own merino wool sweater, have a body scan to determine the perfect fit and see it created in-store within four hours.

In the creation process shoppers entered a darkened room with swirling camouflage and spider web patterns projected onto their chests, with options to shift the light using hand gestures picked up by sensors.

They were then presented with dozens of design options allowing them to customise the various colour combinations.

In addition to standard size options, shoppers could also choose to have a laser body scan which determined a more precise fit for the €200 (£173) merino wool sweater.

The initative is part of the brand’s plan to have 50% of its products made in a faster time frame, double 2016's rate, which it says will allow it to increase the proportion of products sold at full price to 70% from less than half now.

“If we can give the consumer what they want, where they want it, when they want it, we can decrease risk…at the moment we are guessing what might be popular," said Adidas brand chief, Eric Liedtke.

An Adidas spokeswoman said the data and feedback from the project were now being evaluated before the company decided whether to pursue the concept.

Adidas believes that by offering more personalisation to customers it will not only be able to respond to fickle fashion trends far quicker than its rivals, but sell more of its products at full price. Currently the brand sells less than 50% of its products at full price, but through the new initiative it hopes to increase that proportion to 70%.

The personalisation experiments are part of Adidas’ efforts to bring its operating profit margin closer to that of Rival Nike by 2020. The company recently doubled its 2020 targets following record sales of €19.3bn in 2016 bolstered by growth of almost 60% in its ecommerce business.

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