Canadian Tire has opened a giant new store on the south end of Edmonton, on the main road out of town south to Calgary, and loaded it up with a whole bunch of digital.
The South Edmonton Common store, which opened Friday, has more than 100 digital screens, including a video wall and an outdoor hi-rez LED. It also has a driving simulator which gives customers the opportunity to test-drive tires in different weather conditions before purchasing and installing them on their vehicle. Edmonton is in north-central Alberta, so the weather can be all over the place.
The company has also layered in smartphone apps and is using things like digital catalog screens for finding products.
This is quite a bit bigger than a typical Canadian Tire (they do things big in Edmonton, ie West Edmonton Mall) and there’s a little bit of the circus comes to town in how this is kitted out. It has, for example, an Oculus Rift set-up for a virtual backyard.
Canadian Tire has been looking at and trying digital stuff for many, many years. I’ve been in meetings at their head office at least five different times, and I know as recently as last summer some options were still being debated. But this is about as ambitious and cohesive as I have seen a store, and it’s a bit reminiscent of the Sport Chek store at West Edmonton Mall, which definitely has the circus comes to town thing going on as a digital test bed. Canadian Tire owns Sport Chek.
Will this new “Showcase” store be a model for other Canadian Tires? Maybe.
Canadian Tire is a dealer-operated retailer – meaning the corporation owns the building and land in most cases, while the dealer owns the inventory and fixtures. So the dealer would have to decide to also go digital. My experience working with automakers is that some dealers are indeed looking for a template and system to follow, but others are just going to go off and do what they want, or nothing.
STRATACACHE is under the hood here, as it is at the Sport Cheks that have gone big with digital.