Verizon Wireless has embarked on an ambitious initiative to transform the customer experience across its portfolio of 1,700 company-owned stores. The new strategy emphasizes lifestyle over product and promotes in-store engagement and interactivity.
“We are transforming the focus of our stores from selling devices to enabling customers to discover all that wireless technology can do for their mobile lifestyles,” said Domenico D’Ambrosio, executive director, national retail operations, Verizon Wireless.
Verizon’s retail transformation was unveiled with the opening of its “destination” store format, at Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn. Designed by Chute Gerdeman, which also collaborated with Verizon on the merchandise assortment, staff training and real estate planning, the 9,715-sq.-ft. store presents products in context and offers shoppers a hands-on digital experience that is intended to help them understand the potential impact of wireless technology on their lives.
The space has a friendly, inviting vibe, with warm woods and residential accents. The store is organized into a series of interactive lifestyle zones, each dedicated to a specific interest and featuring related wireless gadgets and apps and staffed by specialists in the field. (Some of the zones include Get Fit, for fitness buffs; Amplify It, for music fans; and Have Fun, for gamers. There are also zones dedicated to home monitoring and business.) Phones and devices are displayed along a striking curved wall in the back of the store.
Interactive displays are integrated into all the zones, providing hands-on opportunities for customers to experience and learn about the technology in action. An expansive interactive screen toward the rear of the store draws customers into the space.
Training and education are core to the destination format, which includes a centrally located dedicated workshop area staffed by specialists who share tips and lead classes in front of a large touchscreen display. These live “wireless workshops” are hosted daily, with class schedules and FAQs posted on the screen when class isn’t in session.
The format eschews traditional sales and service counters in favor of floating POS stations in the individual zones and “staging tables” throughout the space where customers can interact with associates. Associates are also equipped with tablets for mobile POS transactions.
Verizon plans to roll out additional destination stores in select locations. The concept is the foundation for a broader initiative that includes the redesign of the wireless giant’s 1,700-plus company-owned stores nationwide to its “smart” store format. The format has the same focus on training and education as the destination store, along with many of the same lifestyle-focused elements, but on a smaller scale.
“The core concept of the Smart store is the same as the Mall of America store,” said Lynn Rosenbaum, VP retail environments, Chute Gerdeman, Columbus, Ohio. “We’ve created a toolbox of experiences and designed modularity and flexibility into the concept to allow a scalable and fluid implementation.”