Last week, Everything Everywhere surprised the industry when it announced branded stores, leading some analysts to speculate that the T-Mobile and Orange umbrella brand was here to stay.
The look and feel of the five Everything Everywhere trial stores is different to anything the joint venture has done before, with some saying that the layout is similar to Apple’s flagship store.
But the Everything Everywhere concept is not based on the Apple store, the operator’s retail VP Andrew Coull told Mobile in an interview last week.
In fact, Coull says, this is an extension of the Orange and T-Mobile concession stores launched last year, which saw Orange concessions launched in T-Mobile stores and visa versa.
The trial also included the operator’s HMV concessions and Orange franchises.
And the latest move is the launch of the Everything Everywhere brand on the high street, Coull says, adding: ‘It’s the first time we will have interaction with customers.
‘I have spent the last year trying to unlearn the traditional approach to mobile retail on the high street,’ says Coull. ‘It is a trial and we will get some of it right and some of it wrong – we will learn from that.’
And Everything Everywhere is trying to change the way consumers see mobile retail too.
Coull says: ‘We are trying to be courageous and turn this upside down to create a lasting relationship with consumers. We are asking them to come in and play. It won’t create a sale today but it will create advocacy.’
The operator has taken its new staff out of their current stores and trained them for a month, taking them to different cities around the UK. Coull says: ‘These are our own people. We are refurbishing one of the stores in Altrincham and the other is being mothballed. The window space is being used by the community and we are keeping the lease.’
Meanwhile, staff performance will be appraised differently and will not be focused solely on sales. Instead, priority will be given to the best-trained and motivated staff serving customers.
‘People are given the choice of transferring to the Everything Everywhere store or another store in the area,’ Coull adds.
But the launch of Everything Everywhere stores wasn’t the plan all along, Coull admits, adding: ‘It’s an evolving world for us. We want to learn and understand Everything Everywhere as a brand on the high street. Was it part of the plan? No. Let’s see and let’s learn.
‘We did know we would create a fundamentally different retail environment. We thought: “let’s create this store”. When you want to expand retail you have to be courageous and creative.’
But will Everything Everywhere resonate with consumers? ‘It’s a brand-new brand on the high street,’ says Coull.
‘Here’s the thinking – if they don’t know about Everything Everywhere already, they will do once they’ve been in store. I really do believe that great brands and successful businesses are successful because customers talk to each other.’
Coull adds: ‘There are no posters in the windows as I want people to see the front and back of the store. All products are live. It’s evident around the look and feel. If
we can create an environment that people like then we’ve done what we set out to do.’
Everything Everywhere’s six-month trial
Everything Everywhere last week launched the six-month trial of Everything Everywhere branded stores at five locations across the UK.
Orange and T-Mobile products, services and accessories will be sold in the new retail environment, hailed by the operator as an ‘inspire, excite and educate’ experience.
The new stores will be branded Everything Everywhere on the external fascia and inside, with the first store going live in Altrincham this week (18 February).
Stores in Bishops Stortford and Eltham will launch within a fortnight, while shops in Lowestoft and Evesham will be launched within four weeks of the Altrincham store.
The five-store trial, which is expected to last up to six months, is intended to build Everything Everywhere’s three-pronged retail strategy.
The Altrincham store will be situated in a former Orange shop that has been refurbished, while the T-Mobile store in the area has been ‘mothballed’ – shut temporarily – and schools and the local community will use the window space.
The new stores will have glass fronts to give customers a clear view into the store and straight to the back of the shopfloor, with no posters or other signage obscuring the view.
Other features include a visual stockroom, where the store’s products will be housed and showcased behind glass panels.
Inside the store, customers will be able to interact with ‘live’ devices and phones, download the latest applications direct to their handsets via the interactive ‘touch and play’ app screens, charge their phones even if they’re not Orange or T-Mobile customers, and build and buy the package that suits them via an interactive video screen.
Customers can also go online using the store’s free Wi-Fi service to get their phone repaired and manage their account in store.
The new stores join a retail estate of more than 720 shops across the UK.