As the in-store experience becomes more and more critical in the technology space, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) announced today that the company will create Destination Stores that provide an innovative shopping and educational experience for its customers.
Verizon opened the doors to its first Destination Store in the Mall of America this afternoon. Marni Walden, executive vice president and chief operating officer, hosted a media event there where she shared the story of how the stores came to being, back in 2010.
"As we talked to our vendors and partners, one of the questions that would keep coming up is 'How do we display these products? Could they be featured in our company-owned stores?'" explained Walden at the press event.
As Verizon has expands its offerings, the new Destination Stores will serve as interactive workspaces where customers can interact with Verizon employees to ask questions, view demonstrations and expand how they use Verizon services and products.
"Most consumers only use around 10 percent of the capabilities of their device. We thought about the network strategy, the pricing structure and the ability to differentiate our experience and we thought our stores were the perfect place to start," said Walden.
The first Destination Store boasts of 7,282 square feet, including five "lifestyle zones" separated by interests such as fitness, music, games, home and travel. The stores also have a classroom-style workshop area where visitors can sit in on classes in front of a massive touch-screen display. In order to streamline the check-out process, store associates will now conduct transactions via tablet, as opposed to cash registers, allowing for more flexibility and one-on-one time with customers.
The Mall of America location, which will open to the public tomorrow, Nov. 20, paves the way for more Destination Stores across the country and renovations that will be coming to existing Verizon Wireless retail locations. The remodeled stores will be branded as "Smart Stores" and will also feature lifestyle zones catered to customers' interests.
The Verizon announcement comes as no surprise considering the huge success of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), who pioneered the "full service" model for technology brands and has reaped its benefits substantially. With the hiring of Angela Ahrendt as head of retail, it's expected that even more upgrades to the Apple store experience will be coming, making Verizon's entrance into this category a smart move indeed. Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) and Intel have also recently announced plans to enter the retail space, with both companies building pop-up showrooms across the country for the holiday shopping season.
For more see:
This Verizon news release
This FierceWireless article plus a photo slideshow with images of the new store
Apple to Spend $10.5 billion on Robots, Supply Chain Technology
Google, Intel Open Pop-Up Retail Showrooms For Holiday Shoppers
Apple Hires Burberry CEO to Lead Retail Stores Division
Apple Stores Stagnate During Fruitless Search For A Leader
Apple Hires Levi's Retail Exec, But He Won't Run Retail