O2 has announced the opening of a new concept store in Manchester, with customer inspiration and digital exploration taking centre-stage.
The new store has been designed to revolutionise the look and feel of a traditional mobile phone shop and provide a new destination for people to not just buy a mobile phone, but to learn about and be inspired by the latest technology. At three times the size of O2’s typical stores, the location comprises over 2,300 square feet of floor space showcasing the very latest technology, interactive ‘inspire zones’ and roving technology tutorials delivered by expert O2 Gurus.
The store opening comes as O2’s GM of Stores, Bridget Lea, calls for the industry to shake off the traditional mobile phone shop stereotype.
Lea said: “At O2, helping our customers get the most out of technology is at the heart of everything we do. But, the reality is, while mobile phones are at the heart of the digital revolution, mobile phone stores are not leading this revolution on the high street. Traditionally, mobile phone shops have been designed to be very functional and can often be uninviting and uninspiring – somewhere people visit occasionally to make a purchase rather than visit frequently to learn and be inspired by the possibilities of technology.
“That’s exactly what we’ve set out to change. We’re re-writing the rule book and creating a new kind of mobile phone shop to help us serve our customers better.”
A second concept store will open in London’s Westfield White City later in January.
Both stores will feature:
• Interactive ‘inspire zones’ giving customers the chance to get their hands on the very latest technology – from virtual reality to the latest connected devices, as well as mobile handsets
• Regular technology tutorials delivered by O2 Gurus. The tutorials will cover everything from helping parents find out how to keep their children safe online, to practical advice on how to connect different devices together and how to use technology to get fit
• Lounge areas offering hot drinks and wireless mobile charging stations giving customers – and their phones! – a chance to recharge
The Manchester store will also have an exclusive area where customers will be given the chance to explore the world of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including a BB-8 Training Zone.
Fifty four new roles have been created at the Manchester and London stores through a targeted recruitment drive developed to attract top talent from both in and out of the sector. Each new employee has been taken through a bespoke training programme, delivered using a special team of guest speakers and actors, and inspired by the individual cities and the people living there. Covering the new recruits’ hands-on digital experience, emotional intelligence and ability to excite and inform customers, each aspect of the programme was developed from scratch with customer service at its core.
Following O2’s 2014 move to reward all O2 stores employees for the service they give to customers, all employees will prioritise exceptional customer experience and be rewarded solely on the service they provide, rather than the sales they generate. With diverse backgrounds in the fields of fitness, music and hospitality, the store teams will be able to help all customers get more from their digital world, whether they be consumers or local businesses.
Lea said: “For our new stores to become the destination of choice for customers to be excited about the possibilities of technology, it was essential that we hire the right people. While our people are already delivering great service to our customers, we wanted to bring in people from a range of different industries so that we could offer our customers a totally different experience in-store. Our only requirement was that they are not only passionate about technology, but equally passionate about delivering a stand-out, hands-on customer experience.”
O2 has developed and designed the stores in partnership with award-winning international design agency Dalziel & Pow. Simon Parkes, design director at Dalziel & Pow, said: “Relaxed, agile and social, the concept store breaks away from what a traditional mobile phone shop looks like, through a new approach that shows O2’s commitment to customer-focused experiential retail. Customers – whatever their network – are encouraged to connect with the store in the way that suits them– whether they want to have a complimentary coffee and work remotely on their laptops, hear about the latest local music events, charge their phone or take a workshop with an O2 Guru.
“Thanks to the versatile design, the stores will be regularly updated, ensuring customers always have something fresh to discover and a reason to visit.”