AT&T Launches First Flagship, Chicago
US telecommunications company AT&T is sizing up to its better-known rival Apple by opening a grand flagship store that hinges on super service and tech-enhanced play.
The similarities between Apple’s retail concepts – famed for its airy, open-plan interiors and Genius Bar of tech experts – and AT&T’s 10,000 sq ft Chicago flagship are striking. But there are plenty of areas where it’s clearly attempting to manoeuvre into fresh territory, most notably in the region of play.
The store features a gaming area where customers can play head to head on Kinect-style motion games. An open, recreational spirit described by store manager Christina Cheng as “a vibe of exploration” also sees the store outfitted with a number of Experience Platforms. These include a car that shoppers can clamber into to play with in-car phone connectivity and a lounge filled with Xbox 360s, comfy sofas and high-speed internet.
As with Apple, instead of a checkout counter, employees will process sales on tablets or smartphones. At the App Bar, AT&T staff or ‘App Tenders’ will suggest new phone features to consumers, while deeper diagnostic work is carried out in a discreet studio space with screened-off tables. See our report Super Service for further examples of how ultra-informed, specialist retail staff are meeting the expectations of clued-up consumers.
As a nod to local culture, the product selection caters for the typical Chicago lifestyle, including an iPhone case to fit on bicycle handlebars. Chicago-based artists were also commissioned to create one-off artworks for the space. Customising store concepts for city-specific audiences is an approach that we explore further in the report Luxury Brand Temples: New Power Flagships.
For more on how play is becoming an instrumental tool with which to educate, inspire and seduce consumers, see our Industry Trend, Power of Play.