Will AT&T give Starbucks competition as the new ‘third place’ for people to hang out?
Dropping by the smartphone store — at least for non-iPhone users — is usually a trip people only make when their device breaks. But, AT&T is testing a concept meant to turn its brick-and-mortar outlets into a place for entrepreneurs, remote workers and people just to hang out – whether they’re AT&T customers or not.
In Seattle, the telecom company is launching a new concept store called The Lounge by AT&T. The store is a 3,000 square-foot space with high-speed internet that AT&T intends visitors to use as a meet-up spot, a place to work and a place to socialize. The Lounge will feature a coffee shop called Ada’s Discovery Café, an outlet created in partnership with local business owners, powered by coffee robots and managed by award-winning barista Cole McBride. In addition to buying coffee and food, customers will be able to shop for AT&T gadgets via a large touch screen or their personal devices and pick up their purchases from an in-store locker.
AT&T isn’t the only company hoping to create a place for customers to collaborate and work remotely.
Collaborative working environments like WeWork, which offer office amenities for remote workers, have begun to grow in popularity and some mall landlords are even adding them to their tenant mix.
Established retailers are trying their hand at the space, as well. Office Depot, for instance, has taken steps to differentiate itself in the struggling brick-and-mortar office supply landscape by launching its BizBox concept, a store which offers small business consulting services, tech support and a space for customers to network. And Joann Fabrics has been pursuing reinvention with an experiential concept that features a coffee shop along with many services targeted at crafters.
The Lounge by AT&T will, of course, also be in competition with the most popular “third place” destinations out there – Starbucks and other coffee shops.
AT&T plans to drastically expand its retail footprint with 1,000 new stores by the end of 2019. It has not announced if other stores will also use The Lounge concept. It has said it intends to open “many mobile and pop-up formats.”
- The Lounge By AT&T In Capitol Hill Combines Retail, Coffee, And Technology – MarketWatch
- Landlords add coworking spaces to drive more people to America’s malls – RetailWire
- Will Office Depot’s BizBox become the go-to place for SMBs? – RetailWire
- Joann Fabrics new concept is all about the experience – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think The Lounge by AT&T concept can be successful in markets with a strong coffee shop culture? What might AT&T have to do to make itself appealing to entrepreneurs, students and other customers who utilize these types of third places to work and/or socialize?