Test of Endurance: How Adidas Set Up Shop at the 2014 Boston Marathon

In just a few hours, not many more than it took Meb Keflezighi win the Boston Marathon, adidas moved more merchandise than most stores do in a month. With no online pre-sale available, there were thousands of potential customers on-site ready to purchase the event’s official jersey. To meet the demand, event sponsors adidas turned to LightSpeed partner Shop Box to help manage its two pop-up shops the day of. The brand has been working with the pop-tail company (they offer customers portable POS) for the past three years. We spoke with Shop Box President Ryan Jarvis about how it all went down.

Tell us about that day.
The marathon typically draws crowds in the tens of thousands. After last year’s tragedy, it felt like more people than ever turned out to back “Boston Strong.” The buzz was infectious, the media was everywhere and you could really sense that everyone was there to support these amazing athletes, including our client, adidas. It’s an iconic event that also provides the brand a great opportunity to showcase its products.

How did you go about setting up adidas’ pop-up shop?
This year, we hosted two stores: one in the Expo Center, which was open for four days, and a smaller one near the finish line at Copley Square, which was open for five days. We had 40 checkout stations (laptops with cash tills) and 10 iPods running LightSpeed Pro at the Expo Center, while at Copley Square we had four stations and six iPods available.

Why does mobile POS set-ups work so well for major events?
They allow retailers to process transactions a lot faster. There’s also a ‘cool’ factor to them and it’s more cost effective than tradition POS set-ups. Of course, the main advantage is that they help cut down on lines. In fact, it worked so well this year that they’re going to triple the number of handhelds they have on site next year.

How do mobile checkouts help cut down on wait time ‘at the till’?”
One of the customers said the line was more like a roller coaster than a line – it moved so quickly. The line was long and wound around the block at some point but the longest someone had to wait was 20-25 minutes; the cashiers were processing about one transaction every two minutes. Because of the volume, it was more like they were strolling in line rather than standing in it.

You specialize in solutions for pop-tail? What is it exactly you offer?
We offer an entire solution in a box.  The laptops, handhelds, and all checkout hardware and software come in one (or several) kits that can be set up and taken down rapidly. It’s a secure and dedicated wireless system that turns on automatically as soon as it’s plugged in. The setup literally consists of simply opening the cases, plugging in the power and turning on the laptop. This is what makes it so easy for us to get major event pop ups running in just a few minutes. At the Boston Marathon, all of our systems were packed up and ready to ship back just 90 minutes after closing.

Do other events use Shop Box?
We help power events all over the United States. Reebok uses Shop Box for the regional and national finals of the Cross Fit Games. It’s also used in a number of adidas carts at NBA games. These carts are on the VIP levels of stadiums and process transactions mostly via handheld devices; they’ve been really successful.

Why are pop-ups such a successful phenomenon?
Retailers need to meet customers on-site. Tack shops for instance take their merchandise to horse shows and surf shops take sell straight from the beach. When our retailers open pop-up stores at a new location, they find new customers and make new sales. They tell us this business carries over to their online stores and their physical locations.

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun is a content writer, fashion enthusiast, and lover of pets. When she's not writing about retail trends, she's travelling the world and learning new languages.