Adidas is launching a London specific sneaker, made in its fully automated Speedfactory in Germany, on 19 October.
The athletic apparel retailer will roll out more localised designs for Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and Shanghai throughout 2018.
Adidas will use its Speedfactory — its factory that uses robots to manufacture sneakers — to create these city-specific options.
Adidas’ Speedfactory could be a differentiator for the company, as it may reduce markdowns, bolster sales, and prevent design leaks to its competitors.
The Speedfactory reduces the time and number of sneakers required to manufacture a design, which may allow Adidas to sell more sneakers at full price.
Typically, retailers must begin the design process about a year before production, and make the sneakers in batches of about 50,000 to 100,000 pairs.
However, the Speedfactory enables Adidas to shorten its manufacturing time from months to one day, and reduce its batches to as little as 500 pairs.
This helps ensure that Adidas can accurately meet demand, limiting excess stock that would end up being marked down.
Being able to customise small batches of shoes may lead to more sales. To develop its city-specific designs, Adidas is utilising data from local customers to see how they use their shoes.
For example, it rains more frequently in London, and customers often use their sneakers to run to or from work, so Adidas created shoes that are reflective and more waterproof than its typical designs.
This customisation will likely spur sales in these cities by helping the company meet the specific needs of the customers in each area.
The Speedfactory lets Adidas keep manufacturing in-house, making it less likely that designs will be seen by competitors.
This will be especially important as Adidas has been putting near-field communication (NFC) chips in some of its products, which it plans to use to collect data on metrics like fit and performance.
As it collects more proprietary data, it will be crucial for the company to keep its designs in-house to retain a competitive advantage for its most cutting-edge products.