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Retail stores: the place to be, and buy

Written by Dominic O’Connor, Managing Partner in Retail at O2

What’s happening in store today?

We used to think about retail stores as just a place to buy things. You wanted something, you went to the store and you bought it. It was all very transactional.

Then came the internet. A whole world of shopping opened up on our screens. More choice, more competition, less hassle. But, as a result, less footfall for stores.

Which is why the retail store is now evolving into something quite different. No longer just the bricks-and-mortar precursor to modern e-commerce sites, it’s the place where retailers engage with customers in a totally new way. Heading to the high street is now all about the experience.

Get the experience right, and customers will think about the retail store not just as somewhere to make a purchase, but as a destination. They’ll keep coming back, they’ll get immersed in your brand, and always be on the lookout for what’s happening next.

Retail stores today are focusing on creating new experiences

  • Department stores showing customers how an outfit would look with Augmented Reality
  • Car showrooms offering a preview of new models in Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Supermarkets live-streaming cooking demonstrations from another store
  • Video game stores bringing players together on multi-platform challenges
  • DIY stores using apps to match paint choices with furnishings
  • Record shops offering music fans exclusive content from bands and artists

The common factor? Connectivity.

Connect now, buy later                

This is a big change in the way we think about retail spaces. The traditional point of sale can now exist anywhere – online, mobile, pop-up shops, events, etc. – so today’s physical retail store must offer something else. It needs to be a place that customers are drawn to, even if they’re not thinking of buying at that moment.

As a retailer ourselves, O2 is always rethinking the role of our high street stores. We’re continually updating our physical spaces and improving connectivity, so customers can do far more. Some of our current and future in-store experiences include:

  • VR tours of O2’s biggest and best locations, like the world-renowned Haçienda nightclub in Manchester
  • Instructor-led fitness classes to test the full capabilities of our fitness technology
  • Movie launches, interactive DJ deck sessions and live music performances
  • Device set-up, optimisation and troubleshooting – plus hands-on demonstrations of new products

Connectivity is key to unlocking these possibilities. By consolidating the fixed, mobile and wifi networks of our stores on one simple platform, called O2 Gateway, we’re building a fully connected infrastructure on which we can create experiences that delight customers.

“O2 Gateway gives us a platform to build on that’s as scalable as it is future-proof. With it, we’ll have no restrictions on the experiences and services we can deliver.”

Adam Fordham, Managing architect, O2 UK

Empowering a more personal service

O2 Gateway improves the service that our staff can deliver to customers – and it also helps with their own working day. Always-on connectivity between stores, distributors, warehouses and back-end systems allows them to check information for customers in real time. “Do we have that latest device in stock at a nearby store?” Staff can find out instantly.

They can also use new connected technologies to automate repetitive tasks – those things that take time away from customers: form-filling, managing stock, setting prices. Real-time access to data provides more time to focus on delivering better in-store experiences for customers.

If you’d like to find out more about the approach we’re taking across our store network, or discuss your own retail transformation, please get in touch by emailing dom.oconnor@businesso2.co.uk or call us on 01235 433507



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