STORES Magazine - July 2008 - (Page 55)

NUTS AND BOLTS / STORE DESIGN Sensory and Sensibility AT&T’s new stores educate and entertain, but don’t overwhelm BY FIONA SOLTES E xperiencing a brand is often an intangible, but not with AT&T. Through a growing number of “experience” stores, the communications/entertainment services giant is offering up its products for clients to see and feel in a whole new way. “The design makes technology more approachable through hands-on demonstrations and personalized service.” — Alex Shapleigh With guided selling kiosks, digital signs, dozens of screens, laptops and stations ranging from gaming to home connections, the stores offer a “fully integrated media experience” aimed at personalization. But this is no mere cacophony of sights and sounds, no bastion of sensory overload. Instead, customers have found the space surprisingly “soothing” and “calming,” says Alex Shapleigh, director at Callison, the architecture and design firm that helped AT&T develop the prototype. “It’s a fine balance between being a high-impact retail environment and a casino,” adds Chris Riegel, founder and CEO of digital signage/software platform partner STRATACACHE. “You try not to overload [and], much to AT&T’s credit, they’ve designed something that’s a hip, cool place to be. This WWW.STORES.ORG is not a tech-head store. This is an easygoing, clean, very colorful experience with nice messaging, rather than an environment where you’re just overwhelmed by gadgets.” Plans for a new store design were under way before the 2006 merger of AT&T and Bell South – which gave AT&T control of former joint venture Cingular Wireless. “We had already worked with Cingular through two-and-a-half prototype evolutions, so we were really familiar with the Cingular brand,” Shapleigh says. “We set out to design an environment that reflected the updated attributes of the new AT&T without losing the familiar, relaxed spirit of the Cingular brand. “One of our primary design goals was to create a store that educated customers about AT&T’s integrated product offerings in a fun and interactive atmosphere,” he says. “The design makes technology more approachable through hands-on demonstrations and personalized service.” The first store opened in Houston in March 2007. In the beginning, the idea was to locate a handful of “experience” stores in large markets, but they’ve proven so successful that there are now closer to 20, with more on the way. (The new models are being rolled out as needed, but Riegel won’t say how many there will be.) AT&T isn’t just using the stores to further define its offerings. According to Leslie Hand, research director of market intelligence firm Global Retail Insights, the effort is right in line with at least one of GRI’s top 10 predictions for the year. STORES / JULY 2008 55 http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - July 2008

STORES Magazine - July 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Dearth of Retail Creativity
What Shoppers Think
Wow, Is That a Wawa?
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Merchandising Strategy
Point of Sale
Human Resources
Top 100 Retailers
Store Design
IT Operations
Systems Managements
LP Vantage Point
Cover Story
Emergency Response Systems
Background Checks
LOEB Retail Letter
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - July 2008