AT&T Opens Flagship in Chicago
Borrowing heavily from the Apple Stores’ look, feel, and overall experience, AT&T on Saturday opened its first flagship store. Located on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the store goes beyond phones and tablets to demonstrate services such as fitness applications, wireless home security and "smartcar" features.
Across the street from Coach and Cartier stores, the 10,000 square foot location is three times larger than the average of the company’s 2,300 retail outlets. With more than 100 digital screens throughout the space, every aspect of the store promises to educate customers about future wireless technologies and services.
"Customers will not only be able to interact with and purchase our products, but they will also experience the forefront of evolving wireless technology and see how AT&T is leading it," said Paul Roth, AT&T’s president of retail sales and services, in a statement.
Among the features:
- An 18-foot high Connect Wall showing interactive content and product information, visible to the entire store and passers-by;
- An Experience Platform allowing shoppers to test home security and automation, entertainment, music and automobile products;
- An Explorer Lounge where shoppers play and learn about apps;
- Lifestyle Boutiques that organize and showcase products, apps and accessories based on needs, including Get Fit, Be Productive and Share Your Life;
- A Family Life area shows customers how to control their home using wireless devices;
- A Street Smart area featuring a 2012 Nissan Leaf, demonstrating automotive connectivity, safety and efficiency.
- A Chicagoland boutique showcases local apps and Chicago-themed accessories exclusive to the store.
The store has 40 employees and includes "quiet and comfortable consultation areas" akin to Apple’s Genius departments for shoppers to discuss purchases or resolve problems.
The new store comes as AT&T has lost its coveted edge as exclusive provider to Apple’s iPhone. Wireless providers are also looking to expand their offerings with subscriber gains tapering off now that nearly everyone has a cellphone. Many competitors, including industry leader Verizon, have started overhauling their stores to keep up with the trend in retail toward giving customers more access to sample devices. Microsoft and Sony have also opened branded stores although Nokia has been closing stores recently after starting its own retail chain in 2005. A 5,000-square foot "AT&T Experience" concept launched in 2007 but was soon aborted.
Lee Peterson, EVP of creative services at WD Partners and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said the model in the space continues to be Apple.
"Gimmickry doesn’t work. Lounges don’t work," Mr. Peterson told Bloomberg News. "We try to convince clients that it’s what the salesperson knows about the customer and the product that matters."
- AT&T Opens Flagship Retail Store on Chicago’s Famed Magnificent Mile – AT&T
- AT&T Is Opening A Massive Apple Store-Like Retail Shop In Chicago – Bloomberg News
- AT&T To Open Flagship Store in Chicago on Saturday – PC Magazine
- AT&T opens 10,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Chicago – Chain Store Age
Do you see an expanding need for showcase stores from wireless providers and even wireless device manufacturers? What’s the optimal way to bring the wireless experience to retail? How can AT&T and others differentiate their retail experience from Apple’s?