Lids Rolls Out ‘Custom Zone’ Store Experience

Lids is rolling out a new store concept designed to enable shoppers to customize hats to support their favorite professional sports teams and athletes, across more than 1,100 retail locations in North America. While Lids already offers custom embroidery in most of its locations, the updated concepts features a designated “Custom Zone” that serves as a central destination for shoppers.

“We feel like the ability for us to offer customization, not only in our stores but online, is a differentiator for us,” said Jeff Pearson, Senior VP of E-Commerce and Marketing at Lids in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As you know many people certainly like to promote their team or a brand that they have an affinity toward. Customization allows shoppers to personalize their hat with anything from a name to a nickname. We have rights with many of the leagues where you can embroider the actual signature of your favorite player along with their number, or even a quote. We have a library of many digitized graphics that can quickly be reviewed by the customer in the store.”

Lids initially introduced the concept as a pilot in four locations during 2017: Kenwood Mall, Cincinnati, Ohio; Woodfield Mall, Chicago; South Center, Seattle; and Portland, Ore. After seeing an increase in traffic and amount of customization work done in these stores, the retailer decided to refresh other locations in larger markets. Lids unveiled the redesigned flagship Times Square location in New York City on June 8, 2018.


Lids hasn’t announced further expansion plans for the Custom Zone, but reportedly will add the concept tin30 to 40 more locations within the next 12 months, many located in high-traffic flagship stores.

Custom Zones are designed to be highly visible to shoppers, featuring an embroidery machine that allows customers to watch the in-store specialist create the design. Now connected to the centralized POS, the Custom Zone features touch-screen technology where customers can browse a digital library of customization options.

The addition of new digital messaging towers and screens also help the retailer communicate styles, perks and promotions. The walls also serve as pickup oints for online orders. 

As part of the NYC store’s unveiling, Lids hosted a celebration for shoppers complete with live music, giveaways and special deals. The first 25 shoppers received Lids gift cards, while the first 100 customers received a surprise scratch-off prize. In addition, Lids offered 50% off customization services on June 8 and 9.

“The amount of foot traffic of people walking by when you have that additional music going engages more consumers and gives them even one more reason to enter your store,” Pearson said. “The only challenge that we have is the amount of square footage that the store is, when you have traffic inside the store it’s not easy to move around. That’s certainly a good problem for a retailer to have when you have a lot of people in the store and a lot of people excited about what’s going on.”

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