At Verizon's Next-Gen Retail Store, It's All About Customer Experience

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At Verizon's Next-Gen Retail Store, It's All About Customer Experience

SAN FRANCISCO—Normally, when you visit a telecom products and services sales location, what awaits you is a pretty standard layout inside: leashed phones and tablets on display so potential buyers can hold them and press a few buttons, and a seating area where you wait patiently until a salesperson is free. Most of that goes out the window at Verizon's new-concept store, the first of which opened here on Market Street on Aug. 22. Not only will visitors find plenty of products to check out, they also can try out Google virtual reality headsets, get product advice and help from staff members, and chat with like-minded customers at long butcher-block, barstool-height tables. It's all about the customer experience. This eWEEK slide show offers some insight into what Verizon will be rolling out for most of its 7,000-plus North America retail stores. (Photos by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Looks More Like a Workshop Than a Retail Store

Upon entering the new-gen Verizon store in San Francisco, it resembles a bookstore, a workshop or a restaurant rather than a place to buy a phone. Corporate store designer Kambiz Hemati has created no waiting areas, but visitors can use the laptops at one of the butcher block-type high tables until they're ready to speak to a salesperson.

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A Sociable Place to Meet

Verizon Chief of Customer Experience Scott Zimmer told eWEEK that Verizon isn't planning on competing with Starbucks and Peet's to serve coffee and other refreshments, but people can bring in their own drinks and laptops and have conversations at the community tables. The whole idea is to put people at ease when in the store.

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Easier to Check Out Products

Phone units are clearly marked, spaced appropriately for use by multiple customers and mounted on easily movable wood displays that can be changed out on a moment's notice. It's a good retail presentation for employees to work with.

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New Releases Section

As in many bookstores, there's a separate section for new product releases—for those who always want to see and/or try out the latest hot device. No hunting around for the newest Android or iPhone; this display is one of the first a customer will see upon coming in the door.

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Interactivity All Around

Customers can try out almost any item in the store with little or no hassle. In the Living section, for example, you can check out a new Bose headset or smart speaker in just a few moments. Salespeople tend to leave customers alone until they indicate that they want help.

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All Products Grouped for Various Interests

In the new Verizon stores, products are grouped not only according to type of device, but to various interests, such as home, outdoors, new products, virtual reality, audio and others. The cross-section of retail presentation makes it easier to find specific items, and little time is wasted.

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Choice Is Always Good

Verizon stores don't normally have displays like this one, in which every new phone case is available to pick up, feel and try out before buying. Phones and their accessories have become such important parts of our personalities that buying decisions like this aren't trivial anymore.

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Google Daydream Used for VR Demo

Visitors in the new Verizon store can test out the new Google Daydream virtual reality headset at the San Francisco location. The VR section won't be available at all new Verizon stores as they are retrofitted during the next couple of years, since it depends upon consumer demand for the product. The San Francisco location features VR experiences that are indigenous to the area, such as landmarks (floating over the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower and Lombard Street), water (Baker Beach, Golden Gate Park lake and others) and others. The VR experiences are coined "A Love Letter to San Francisco" and produced by L.A.-based RYOT Lab in partnership with Verizon.

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Location: Right Downtown

It looks rather inauspicious from the outside, but trust us, the Verizon store on Market near Stockton is like no other IT retail location anywhere.

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