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Verizon Opens New-Format 'Destination Store' With Plans For More Next Year

12/01/2013 07:00:00 PM Eastern

BLOOMINGTON, ILL. — Verizon Wireless opened its first Verizon Destination Store last month and plans to open more of the interactive, lifestyle-based showrooms over the next few years in iconic, high-traffic locations across the country, the carrier said.

The first Destination Store, which covers 9,715 square feet, opened here at the Mall of America on Nov. 20. Plans call for additional locations next year in Chicago and Houston.

The stores are highlighted by lifestyle “zones” that target sports and fitness, music, gaming, home monitoring and energy management, and mobile professionals and entrepreneurs. Each interactive zone lets customers work with salespeople to experience products running on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the carrier said.

Destination Stores will also offer interactive features like treadmills, music stations and life-size game boards; a Customize It Zone that lets shoppers create colorful covers for smartphones and personalize them with photos; a huge Focal Wall toward the back of the store that lets customers see themselves as avatar surfers, guitarists and the like; and a dedicated workshop area where education specialists will conduct free classes in front of a large touchscreen display screen.

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 remodels, called Smart Stores, will be smaller-scale versions of the Destination Store. More than 100 stores will be converted to Smart Stores by year’s end, and the rest will retrofit over the next few years, a Verizon spokesman told TWICE.

Smart Stores are not as fully equipped as Destination Stores, but will be staffed by “expert, companytrained lifestyle zone specialists,” he said.

While the Destination Stores will be large-footprint retail properties in iconic locations that showcase how mobile devices, smart accessories and applications add value to the consumer’s individual lifestyle, Smart Stores 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 said.

In comparison, the carrier’s existing stores are “focused on selling devices and service plans to consumers.”

Verizon Wireless has also 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, and 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.

The carrier offers in-store pickup at most retail locations and in October introduced same-day delivery in five cities, where fulfillment is assigned to nearby Verizon-owned stores.

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