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Mobile brands adding experience to retail

November 22, 2006

Helio and Verizon have recently launched new retail initiatives to provide their brands with more of an “Apple Store” experience. Most of the mobile players in the US have ignored brand experience at retail, and instead do their retail in the cheap, with efficient spaces designed to sell plans in volume.

Verizon’s new retail initiative in Dallas is a radical departure from the brand’s typical space and features a demonstration area that allows for one-on-one consultation and at 5,000 sq ft is unusually spacious and comfortable.

Helio is a little closer to Apple with a hipper twist. The new flagship store in Santa Monica has an art gallery that allows where you can grab images and integrate them onto your Helio screen.

In a highly competitive and saturated marketplace, brands need to use retail as an educational and branding space to up-sell the consumer into new services. Nokia is already doing this in the US and over in Europe and Japan, where the markets have been saturated for some time, brands like Orange and KDDI have been experimenting with interesting new retail environments for years.

While Helio and Verizon are coming closer to the Apple ideal, Apple continues to innovate its retail experience, as this video of the elevator guide in the Ginza store illustrates.

Perhaps the mobile brands need to experiment in a risk free environment without the cost of building physical space. They could do this by creating prototype stores in Second Life, just like Starwood has done with its new hotel brand, aloft

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