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Carrier Stores And CE: What They’re Up To

NEW YORK — AT&T and Verizon are the most aggressive of the national carriers in merchandising smartphone-connected CE products, analysts said. But carriers of all stripes, including regional players, are taking steps to broaden their product selections.

Mississippi-based wireless/landline carrier C Spire, for example, this year rolled out what it calls “smart accessories” to all of its 65 stores. Eighteen smart-accessory SKUs include intelligent sports wearables, Gear Fit, thermometers and photography, music and recreation offerings at prices from $29 to $199, a spokesman said.

In its D’iberville store, the carrier divides its consumer and business products and services into four areas called Explore, Live, Work and Play.

The Live area features products focused on health, home security and entertainment. The Work section highlights products and services offered by C Spire Business Solutions, including wireless phones, push-to-talk service and hosted Exchange email services. The Play area is intended for playing with products to learn how apps, accessories and devices can work together. The Explore area highlights music accessories.

For their part, AT&T stores offers such products as Braven and Beats Bluetooth speakers, Samsung headphones, the GoPro Hero3+ action cam, the Miroir MP60 MiniHDMI projector, smar watches such as the Martian G2G and Samsung Gear, and such fitness accessories as the Fitbit Flex, the Jawbone UP24 and the Samsung Gear Fit.

The carrier also sells its Digital Life home-automation and monitoring products and service in 82 markets where the service is available.

CE products are prominently displayed in the carrier’s 30 Stores of the Future, the first of which rolled out last year. All 2,300 AT&T stores “flow from the same strategy,” Evans said.

In the Stores of the Future, an open floor plan highlights AT&T’s products and services in three zones: the Connected Experience zone, the Community zone, and the Explore zone. The Connected Experience zone consists of three pavilions: music, home automation/security, and U-Verse, where the company’s fiber-optic TV service is displayed. The Community zone features long “community tables” that let shoppers pair a smartphone with the latest accessories. And the Explore zone displays the carrier’s device line-up and accessories and lets shoppers view product information on video screens.

Verizon last year rolled out its first smart store in Bridgewater, N.J., and continues to expand the concept nationwide.

The stores feature mobile lifestyle zones for such activities as fitness and music. “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, national retail operations executive director.

“All of our stores showcase our 4G LTE network and the various ways that wireless technology over our network can help customers do more based on their lifestyle needs, preferences and desires. It makes life easier and more fun. And from the business side, people can work smarter.”