AT&T has launched a new flagship store in Chicago that is taking the lead in bringing digital innovation to brick & mortar retail. Adweek details the changes from a typical shopping experience:
The highly stylized space, which opened last fall, looks more like an art museum than a store, but it’s hardly a bore—there’s plenty of digital eye candy competing for [the customer’s] attention as he waits, including an 18-foot video wall equipped with motion-sensory software on which a couple of kids are playing a game.
He, like most who walk through these doors, is seriously wowed by the space, but, he says, “More than anything, I appreciate the hands-on help.”
Call it the Appleization of brick and mortar, where retailers from Michael Kors to Staples to Pep Boys are dazzling consumers with the futuristic in-store shopping experience the House That Jobs Built gave rise to. In fact, a decade ago and just a few blocks from the AT&T flagship, Apple opened its own gleaming, digitized space on the Magnificent Mile—but Apple is no longer the coolest kid on the block. Today, that distinction belongs to AT&T—though there’s plenty of competition from the likes of Nike and Burberry, which have unveiled souped-up stores here in recent months, as well as Apple, which, buzz has it, is prepping its own overhaul.
Forward thinking brands are already starting to overhaul at least a few of their locations with the latest and greatest gadgetry, but so far it’s been mainly smaller, boutique type retailers. It will be interesting to see who is the first “big box” chain to pull the trigger on such an overhaul, and if it puts them into the lead amongst their competitors. Eventually, though, these types of in-store services will be the bar for entry to all retailers if they want to stave off irrelevancy in the fight against online sales.
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