Projects: AT&T’s Store Of The Future In Chicago ‘Burbs
August 30, 2013 by Dave Haynes
US telecoms giant AT&T has followed up its very fancy flagship brand store on North Michigan in Chicago with a tech-heavy concept store in that same city’s southwest suburbs.
The “store of the future” in La Grange is, says the company in a news release, the end result of “more than two years of research designed to create a more interactive and inviting store environment.”
The store at 1 N. La Grange Road opened Aug. 1 with goals of reflecting AT&T’s mission, brand vision, and personality, while also satisfying customer curiosity about technology. The design was broken down into three unique zones:
The new Connected Experience Zone features “lifestyle vignettes” that offer customers a glimpse of how solutions can be used in their everyday lives. These lifestyle pavilions will highlight categories such as music, home security, entertainment and more.
Next is the Community Zone featuring “community tables” that encourage customers to shop and play in an open and interactive space. Customers can explore apps, accessories and devices to see how they all work together.
Finally, customers can check out the Explore Zone that highlight AT&T’s diverse device line-up and accessories and view product information on video screens.
Some of the strategy is interesting.
The point of sale system is now tablet-drive and customers sit with sales staff at round café-style tables. Printed material has largely been supplanted by digital signs, e-brochures and interactive video monitors.
Having spent weeks and weeks overseas working with a wireless retailer on strategy I have my head pretty thoroughly wrapped around this space and the dynamics of these kinds of stores. The monster challenge is how long it takes to engage, educate, close, register and activate customers (as much as an hour).
I don’t see a lot here that’s going to hurry that along.
There are lots of “experiential” areas to monkey around with peripherals, but the core business of selling people into phones and plans is still pretty old school here, as opposed to future-facing. AT&T is using paper fact tags in front of devices to give what amounts to really skimpy information about each device, and those devices all appear to be live and therefore tethered to alarm systems.
As someone who has now spent a lot of time in wireless stores, live handsets tethered to alarms go off all the freaking time, and are the antithesis of a good shopper experience in a store. Unless you like things that emit ear-bleeding shrieks.
On the other hand, I like the eye-level placement of screens that are big enough to truly notice, and the overall clean store design. Most of the accessories – high margin but probably a rounding error in overall store revenues – are pushed down below the counters.
And I like the conversion to digital from paper. The compliance rates for printed stuff (right message, right place and time) are likely low, as they are in most retail. So going digital will jump that up, and also add much more marketing inventory.