Nike Buys a Data Science Company

Cyndi Loza
Associate Editor, Path to Purchase Institute
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Nike has acquired Boston-based retail predictive analytics and demand sensing firm Celect to bolster its strategy of serving consumers personally at a global scale. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Founded in 2013, Celect has an intellectual property portfolio across data science and software engineering. Its cloud-based analytics platform provides proprietary insights that allow retailers to optimize inventory across an omnichannel environment through hyper-local demand predictions.

“With the acquisition of Celect, Nike greatly accelerates our digital advantage by adding a platform developed by world-class data scientists,” said Eric Sprunk, Nike chief operating officer, in a media release. “As demand for our product grows, we must be insight-driven, data-optimized and hyper-focused on consumer behavior. This is how we serve consumers more personally at scale.”

By integrating Celect’s technology into Nike’s mobile apps and website, the shoemaker should be able to better predict what style of sneakers and apparel consumers want, when they want it and where they want to buy it, Sprunk explained in an interview with CNBC.

“Our goal is to serve consumers more personally at scale,” Sprunk told CNBC. “We have to anticipate demand. We don’t have six months to do it. We have 30 minutes.”

Sprunk also added that the retailer opted to acquire Celect versus “spending two to three years” trying to incubate the same platform in-house. “It’s really difficult work ... predicting the retail shopping patterns and behavior. ... This [acquisition] gets us much more accelerated.”

Celect's team will immediately be integrated into Nike's global operations team and its co-founders will continue as tenured professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, consulting Nike on an ongoing basis, according to the release.

“We’re thrilled to be joining the Nike team, adding our unique and innovative capabilities to the data and analytics foundation they’ve been building over the years,” said John Andrews, Celect chief executive officer, in the release.