Nike gave us a glimpse into the store of the future this year

nike flagship 1113Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • Nike is winning the race to create the store of the future by incorporating killer new features into its app.
  • Instant Purchase is the most interesting of the bunch, and was the coolest retail tech we used this year.

Technology is invading the in-store experience.

It's not just about hyper-futuristic stores with sensors like Amazon Go, either. Nike is winning the race to create the store of the future by debuting many new features into the Nike app instead of stacking the physical space with expensive technology.

The Nike app can now let you unlock free stuff in stores, help you try on shoes without having to talk to anybody, and even allow you to instantly purchase something in-store and walk right out with it.

We trialed the scan-to-try feature just after it was released in a Nike store in Los Angeles, and we found it was easy and quick to use. It worked exactly as advertised.

Read more: Nike has unveiled a new way to try on sneakers at its stores without talking to anyone. Here's how it works.

What is most exciting for the future of retail, however, is the scan-to-buy feature, which lets you use your phone's camera to scan a barcode and instantly purchase an item. It uses the credit card on file, just like if you were shopping online, but now you can just walk right out of the store.

Nike's newest stores are being designed with the feature in mind, too. Instead of a huge bank of cash registers in Nike's new flagship store in New York City, there are little kiosks with a bin for hangers and a bag to stuff your purchase in and take it home.

The technology will eventually roll out to all of Nike's nearly 400 stores in the US.

Scan-to-buy is not new. Apple stores have had it for years. But the proliferation, as well as the holistic ecosystem, make the service feel like magic.

Imagine waking up and wanting to buy new Nike sneakers. With the Nike app, all you have to do is find the one you want, scan to try, then scan to buy. No waiting to find a store associate, and definitely no waiting in line for a cashier.

It's sneaker buying in the future.

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