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Mobile Retail Special 310316

Retail Special What we’re trying to do is change the retail experience from when you walk in. It’s about making it more than just a transactional environment. It’s far more about the experience and about what you can do with your device Sian Laffin, head of Discovery and innovation, Three Discovery complements that – we work really closely with the stores, but they are separate environments. ‘There has perhaps been a perception that people in the mobile industry can’t be trusted and this gives us a wonderful opportunity to create the ethos of Discovery, which is all about the aftercare. There is no selling in Discovery. If a Discovery partner is A different dimension Virtual reality has been heralded as the next big hope for the mobile industry. Mobile World Congress saw a large number of manufacturers launch VR products to be sold alongside and using mobile devices. This presents a significant challenge for retailers who now have to showcase this category within their stores. Just as wearables forced the industry to rethink the way in which products were displayed, VR is making retailers reassess how they demonstrate devices. VR can be a powerful tool in bringing potential customers in-store. The Samsung VR zone in the shop window of O2’s Westfield store has been successful in drawing passing trade into the store. While the HTC Vive demo areas in Dixons Carphone stores reported that customers are willing to wait more than two hours to try the products. For O2’s Bridget Lea this change is just the start of a shift in the way products are displayed: ‘Over the next few years I think a lot is going to change in the way in which we showcase technology to the public in the front end. Mobile phone shops are quite small, so from a practical perspective it’s very hard to shoehorn a mobile VR experience into an 800sqft space. So it’s interesting to see people in our sector looking to larger spaces at the moment to give that full experience and showcase those products and services. I think things will change over the next couple of years.’ The potential experiential impact of this type of product is recognised by some of the world’s major retail heavyweights. Speaking following the launch of a Samsung VR zone in its London outlet. Myf Ryan, CMO of global shopping centre giant Westfield UK & Europe, explained that the impact of the area would be significant: ‘Technology is at the forefront of today’s retail experience and, as it evolves, so too does the environment we shop in and the experience the customer seeks. A recent report launched by Westfield – “How We Shop Now: What’s Next” – predicts that 51% after that, they are instantly referred to the store. The idea is that this a two-year commitment and we should be with you every step of the way, not just at the point of the transaction. So of Londoners would like to use new technologies, such as virtual reality headsets, with 39% wanting enhanced assistance to transport them to a virtual setting to better understand a product. ‘Samsung’s Galaxy Studio space takes the virtual reality trip to the next level, and the sheer volume of you start to trust us more, and if you trust us you’re going to come back to us. That is what we’re building our brand on.’ For Laffin’s colleague Jessica Tompkinson, community engagement and discovery manager at Three, this new type of customer engagement will be beneficial long term in winning over new customers to the network: ‘50% of people that came into the first Discovery centre in Maidenhead were non-customers. They wouldn’t have ever walked into our store before, but they’re more likely to walk into our store now when they’re in that transactional window. I think that if we didn’t have Discovery they’d still be going back to their current network provider time and time again because they’re used to it.’ Working with community groups is something that Vodafone has also been doing, as Jon Shaw explains: ‘We do two things when it comes to community engagement. There is the partnership with the Scouts, who have two badges sponsored by Vodafone related to learning about technology. Another thing that we do is with every store refit we give a £1,000 donation to the community for them to do something. We do this on the basis of Westfield shoppers who have already taken part shows the appetite for this type of immersive experience in showcasing a new product. We are delighted to be able to host this thrilling experience at Westfield London and have no doubt they will involve hundreds of thousands of visitors throughout the run of the event.’ 12 mobile 31 March 2016 www.mobiletoday.co.uk


Mobile Retail Special 310316
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