Verizon connects interactive, in-store benefits

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Verizon tapped R/GA to design The Verizon Experience store, an interactive shop in Dallas where customers can integrate the benefits of e-commerce shopping with that of the in-store experience.

Online shopping has given people certain expectations about the way products are displayed, the availability of detailed specs and the ability to compare prices. Verizon, New York, wanted to address this concern, especially relating to cell phones. The store opened on Halloween.

"A lot of products are hard to explain, and they can only really be understood when they can be tested by the customer themselves in the store," said Carson Wierwille, managing director, production at R/GA, a New York interactive agency.

The store lets customers learn about and experience various high-tech communications and entertainment products and services. It is divided into a series of product tables. Each table has an interactive computer that lets customers research online facts while touching in-store products. Categories include calling plans, wireless handsets, FiOS TV and wireless broadband.

The individual touch-screen demos include The Demo Zone, which is in the center of the store and serves as the hub to comprehensive product and service information. It contains six touch-screen media stations with software that lets customers sort through detailed product information and see virtual product demonstrations. A concierge is available to answer questions when shoppers desire.

Another station is the Verizon Wireless Phone Finder. This interactive tool lets consumers browse Verizon Wireless phones based on features, such as V CAST, GPS navigation and e-mail capabilities.

Other stations are devoted to entertainment, where customers can play games on Verizon's "Gaming on Demand" network and listen to music through Verizon's V CAST Music services. Finally, the store features FiOS Internet centers where visitors can compare the speed of different Internet connections by downloading a song or 90-minute movie.

The store also includes video and animated graphics on digital signs. The screens display messages ranging from local in-store events and promotions to samples of content available via FiOS TV or V CAST.

The Dallas location was chosen because it is near Keller, TX, where Verizon just rolled out its exclusive new FiOS Internet service. According to Mr. Wierwille, many customers in the area already use the feature, so offering products around it made sense. Mr. Wierwille thinks the interactive retail environment will be the trend for future shopping.

"The retail experience will become increasingly wired because digital pieces are trackable," he said. "Those two worlds are merging more, and there is more fluidity going back and forth."

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