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What digital innovation looks like in Canada

Canadian Tire plans to manufacture digital innovation at a new “App Factory,” that is part of the retailer’s recently open Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre.

Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the 28,000-sq.-ft.- facility serves as the core digital hub for the Canadian Tire family of companies and a store network of roughly 1,700 locations. The center will possess 20 times more computing power and 10 times more network bandwidth than the company’s existing technology infrastructure.

According to the company, it is one of the most advanced centers of its kind in North America and will house a digital content warehouse, application lab, testing lab and high performance data center. An “App Factory,” housed at the facility will focus on advanced digital solutions and new technologies for use in stores and online. In addition, attached to the new innovation center is an advanced gamification space and digital media hub the company calls, “NEWcleus.” The goal of NEWcleus is to create technology to change the way people communicate and interact with the company's retail stores.

"The launch of the Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre is one of the biggest digital endeavors ever taken on by the company. The applications we are developing here will enhance the in store shopping experiences for our customers, turbo-charge their interaction with our brands online and provide great improvements to our back-end operations,” said Eugene Roman, SVP and chief technology officer at Canadian Tire. "By bringing together a diverse group of individuals in a truly inspiring space, we will continue to showcase innovation at Canadian Tire. As retail turns into e-tail, we will continue to connect our physical stores with digital and further enhance the way our customers interact with our staff, our stores and our brand.”

The opening of the innovation center follows other recent moves at Canadian Tire to invest in agile technology solutions which are designed to improve store operations and digitally power customer interactions both in-store and online. In 2013, the company launched its new interactive online catalog and announced that it will be increasing the products available through its e-commerce channels. The company’s FGL Sports group opened a state-of-the-art Sport Chek “lab” store in Toronto and earlier this year launched a flagship store at the West Edmonton Mall. Both locations combine hands-on experiences that bring the products to life with interactive technology and digital installations. The Company also became the first retail partner in Communitech with the opening of a digital development lab in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario , which will be closely linked to the Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre in Winnipeg.