Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong VIC

There are few more enduring names in Australian fashion retail than Sportsgirl. But in the fickle world of young ladies’ clothing, these decades of ‘runs on the board’ scarcely count for anything — it’s all about how you connect with this super savvy generation now.

Thanks to the ubiquity of internet access (and, increasingly, mobile internet access), the Sportsgirl demographic know what’s hit stores in London, New York and Tokyo virtually in real time. And Sportsgirl needs to stay on top of what’s on trend, serving a smorgasbord of fashionable options that allows shoppers flexibility, changeability, and reasons to return.

Sportsgirl’s interactive website helps the retailer achieve an ongoing connection with its constituency, but it knows the best way to communicate with shoppers is in store.
Sportsgirl has always had a strong, cohesive identity, but it’s hard to be dynamic, exciting and consistent at the same time. Yet its latest outlets manage to achieve this. With the help of its builder Ramvek, Sportsgirl manages to construct a retail environment that embodies the brand, as well as being packed with visual interest. Most obvious is the 3D moulded shopwindow facade, but just as important are the inspirational visual merchandising displays, and the signature Sportsgirl aroma within the store (yes, Sportsgirl has its own smell), all of which contribute to a vibrant, interactive beauty destination.

The new store design might be dynamic, but well-worn retail truisms still prevail: there’s a simple and flexible merchandising system and layout, the expertly-realised architectural lighting design, and a prominent till point, along with bespoke Sportsgirl furniture and fitting rooms and elements such as the shoe and beauty area — all help to ensure an amazing customer experience at every touch point.

I’m sure there must be at least one Sportsgirl customer that’s shopping without a smartphone, but the Amish community from which she escaped will soon want her back! Little wonder then that ‘digital’ has become increasingly important in the way in which Sportsgirl communicates with the girls — from the responsive website to Sportsgirl’s Augmented Reality app ‘Sportsgirl Explore’, which enables girls to scan digital signage in the store’s beauty units and watch beauty tutorials on how to use the products; to each of the Sportsgirl stores having an Instagram account where they post new products, how-to-wear styling and in-store events. It’s clear that Sportsgirl understands the importance of digital in its girls’ lives, so much so that in March the retailer will roll out digital/film in some of the top store windows.

The Sportsgirl store is a masterful example of manifesting a brand’s DNA in bricks and mortar. Ramvek’s role as builder cannot be underestimated, from the showpiece 3D shopfront all the way through the store to the changerooms with their matching carpeted design.

As retailers are increasingly corralled into e-commerce, creating a unique store experience, to drive footfall and connect to the customer, has never been so important.

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