The Latest Air Jordan Drop Was a Fundamentally New Retail Experience

social commerce example: shopify snapchat jordan collaboration

All-Star Game weekend is about more than just basketball. Highly-anticipated sneaker drops are also a key part of the excitement surrounding the NBA’s annual event.

This past Sunday, February 18th, Jordan Brand dropped its latest limited edition Air Jordan III ‘Tinker’ as part of its 30th anniversary celebration of the historic Air Jordan III.

But this wasn’t your everyday sneaker release. Snapchat partnered with Jordan and Shopify to enable a fundamentally new kind of retail experience, one that combines real-world interactions with online shopping.

Snapcodes were displayed at 935 San Julian Street in Los Angeles that offered fans exclusive and early access to purchase the Air Jordan III ‘Tinker’. Collectors and fans could scan these Snapcodes with the Snapchat camera to unlock an in-app commerce experience and buy a pair for themselves. Purchases were then delivered the same day to select addresses through local fulfillment centers operated by Darkstore. Lucky customers also unlocked an exclusive Snapchat filter to show off their new kicks.

The collective result was a cutting-edge approach to enhance the shopping experience that provides a glimpse into the future of retail through social commerce.

Embedding commerce into social experiences

Sneaker drops are communal events. Whether you’re standing in line waiting for a new release or connecting with others who share your passion in the myriad forums and sneaker communities that exist online, they’re as much about the connections as they are the actual purchase.

Jordan Brand’s immersive launch brought this community together in real life with Snapcodes serving as the nexus: a way to offer everyone who participated exclusive access to the Air Jordan III ‘Tinker’. Coming to the same location for the same reason, the drop acted as a virtual store, giving sneaker collectors and fashion phenoms a place to create lasting memories and engage with the brand in a unique way.

In-person retail experiences need to be more engaging than online shopping is convenient.

It was an example of how offline retail’s greatest advantage isn’t being a warehouse for inventory with a storefront tacked on, but to instead serve as a way to bring people together in one space—a space that isn’t necessarily confined to the four walls of a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

Same-day delivery lets customers come home to their order

As an inventory-free retail event, the Air Jordan III release allowed attendees to skip the traditional checkout process and instead enjoy the scene with others in the community. And although sneakerheads from far and wide came together offline for the drop, the sale of the shoes happened online, taking social commerce beyond “social media” by merging it with the real world.

By leveraging today’s shipping and fulfillment technology, orders were executed immediately after a purchase. Instead of being forced to wait the standard 3-5 days, Darkstore’s local fulfillment centers ensured most orders within range arrived the very same day. This closed the gap between buying and owning and all but removed the usual hindrance of waiting around for the product to be shipped.

With same day delivery, anyone lucky enough to snag a pair from the launch wouldn’t have to wait to own them: a box of fresh Air Jordan IIIs would be there for them by the time they arrived home.

Rethinking retail for a world of social commerce

Commerce is inherently social. The internet didn’t change that; it has just brought part of the experience online.

Retail is evolving to be less about holding inventory and more about hosting experiences that are compelling enough to bring people together. If retailers hope to earn customers’ time and attention, in-person experiences need to be more engaging than online shopping is convenient.

Whether it’s a social network, a pop-up shop, or a one-of-a-kind sneaker drop, commerce continues to reinvent itself for wherever people, and the communities they form, are found.

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