Canadian Tire Opens Tech Research Facility
The Canadian Tire Corporation – parent company of Canadian retailers including menswear brand Mark’s, auto-parts retailer Partsource and sporting goods brand Sport Chek – has become the latest retailer to launch its own tech-focused innovation centre. The move is a bid to galvanise its internal processes and thrust itself to the forefront of contemporary retail practice.
Dubbed the Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre, the 28,000 sq ft facility is based in downtown Winnipeg in Manitoba – a city in an adjacent province to the brand’s headquarters with a burgeoning tech community, due to significant government investment.
The private research and development facility will bring Canadian Tire 20 times more computing power and 10 times more network bandwidth for substantially increased data storage and processing. According to chief technology officer Eugene Roman, “it can do things that would take eight to 12 weeks in 12 minutes”.
New initiatives for customer engagement are also located at the centre. The ‘App Factory’ will focus on developing advanced digital solutions and new technologies for omni-channel interaction. Meanwhile, ‘NewCleus’ is an advanced gamification space and digital media hub that will capitalise on the gaming industry’s understanding of behavioural science and motivation techniques.
The initiative follows Canadian Tire’s 2013 collaboration with technology start-up incubator Communitech, to boost its digital know-how.
For more on how other brands are embracing the internal research and development (R&D) tech-lab model, see GlaxoSmithKline’s Shopper Research Lab, John Lewis Nurtures Tech Start-Ups, and Retail Week Live 2014 for info on Tesco’s Rainmaking Loft.
See also Product Hubs: Experimentation & Co-Creation for more on the value of consumer-facing R&D retail concepts.