By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bloomington, Ill. — Verizon Wireless will open its first Verizon Destination Store on Wednesday and plans to open more Destination Stores over the next few years in iconic high-traffic locations across the country, the carrier announced.
The first Destination Store, which covers 9,715 square feet, opens 7 p.m. Wednesday here at the Mall of America. The next Destination Stores open next year in Chicago and Houston.
The debut is part of a broader retail initiative that includes the redesign of the carriers’ more than 1,700 retail stores and operational changes within the stores. Redesigned stores, called Smart Stores, will be smaller-scale versions of the Destination Store, which incorporates multiple interactive lifestyle zones.
More than 100 stores will be Smart Stores by year’s end, and the rest will be converted over the next few years, a spokesman told TWICE.
The store’s music-focused interactive lifestyle zone includes headphones and speakers.
The Destination Store’s fitness zone includes a treadmill.
The store’s home-automation and monitoring display
A lifestyle zone targeted to mobile business professionals
In Destination Stores, the lifestyle zones include zones for sports and fitness enthusiasts, music lovers, gamers, home monitoring and energy management, and a zone for mobile professionals and entrepreneurs. Each interactive zone lets customers work with salespeople to experience products running on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. A Customize It Zone lets shoppers create colorful covers for smartphones and personalize them with photos. A huge Focal Wall toward the back of the store lets customers see themselves as avatar surfers, guitarists and the like.
The Destination Store also includes a dedicated workshop area where education specialists will conduct free classes in front of a large touch-screen display screen.
The Destination Stores will be large-footprint retail properties in iconic locations, a spokesman said. “Each store will feature mobile lifestyle zones and other interactive experiential areas, showcasing how mobile devices, smart accessories and applications add value to the consumer’s individual lifestyle.” Smart Stores, in contrast, will be “geared to showcase mobile lifestyles — such as fitness or music-focused lifestyles — and the devices and accessories that make these lifestyles a reality,” he continued. Smart Stores are not as fully equipped as Destination Stores with such interactive features as treadmills, music stations or life-size game boards, but the Smart Stores will be staffed “by expert, company-trained lifestyle zone specialists,” he said.
In comparison, the carrier’s existing stores are “focused on selling devices and service plans to consumers.”
In other announcements, the carrier said it made operational changes at existing stores to make shopping more convenient and more personalized. Store personnel now use tablets so they can spend more time with customers, the carrier said. The company’s new online store has added a discovery engine to recommend products that might be of interest based on past purchases.
Verizon said it is also integrating its systems “to provide a unified experience to customers” whether they’re shopping online, in stores or via telesales.
Verizon Wireless also offers in-store pickup at most retail locations and in October introduced same-day delivery in five cities. For the service, the carrier ships from Verizon-owned stores near the purchaser.
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