Yesterday, Canadian Tire opened what it is calling a "Showcase" store in Edmonton. The large 140,000, two-floor location is three times larger than the average Canadian Tire store (see above photo).
But what makes this store special is not its size, but rather the many new and digital interfaces within it. The company released a promotional video (embedded below) to reveal the store's unique features.
The video takes you on a tour of the stores various showrooms, for tires and auto parts, yard care, patio furniture, toys, sporting goods, a drive-thru garden center, hunting and fishing pro shop, housewares, paint, a drive-thru bay for e-commerce and bulk item pickup, and get this: a "Driving Simulator & Tire Tester" (pictured below).
According to the video, the store features over 100 digital screens and these jumped out at me. There are large touchscreens throughout the store, allowing customers to browse various products, models and colors adjacent to large showroom areas. The paint department has a tablet that lets you pick a paint color and then a sales associate comes out with a can of your selected paint.
There's also a "Dream Backyard & Patio Builder" that presents options a massive touchscreen, and then the user can put on a pair of Oculus VR goggles (see below photo) to virtually walk through their created backyard and patio. It reminds me of the Lowe's Holoroom prototype we looked a while back.
The new Canadian Tire store is impressive. It shows the retailer is making efforts to stave off competition from the large U.S. big-box home improvement stores like Lowe's and Home Depot, as well as from other retailers like Cabela's (for hunting and fishing) or London Drugs (for housewares and home appliances). The new store also appears to be a testing ground for new concepts like its driving/tire simulator and backyard/patio builder with VR. There's no guarantee these approaches will resonate with consumers -- and they do feel a little gimmicky -- but the company can trial the technology here before deciding whether to roll it out in other locations.