O2 is hoping to own the mobile tech retail space with the introduction of two new concept stores, which it is confident will give the business a "competitve edge".
The company opened the doors of its new stores in Manchester and London this month with the aim of "re-writing the rule book" of what a phone shop should be about with the emphasis on educating consumers about the possibilities of technology.
Designed by design agency Dalziel & Pow the stores are three times the size of O2’s typical stores and divert from the stereotypical image of a functional and transactional phone shop.
The shops include interactive ‘inspire zones’ to give customers the chance to play with the latest technology such as virtual reality, connected devices, and mobile handsets.
There are also lounge areas offering hot drinks and wireless mobile charging stations.
O2's general manager of stores Bridget Lea told The Drum: "I believe we will gain a significant competitive edge as we've moved the in-store experience on so dramatically. In our new stores we're doing things differently and disrupting what's happening within our sector in order to give customers great experience and stand out from the pack. These stores are beautifully designed, creative spaces staffed by experts, so the experience goes way beyond that of just 'buying a phone'".
The company is also set to introduce geo-fencing and beacon technology to send targeted messages to passing shoppers, to encourage them to come and explore O2 stores.
In terms of a wider roll out Lea added: "We’ll be looking closely at what works well at these stores, and what doesn’t, what our customers like and don’t like, so we can use our new stores to improve the overall experience we’re delivering to all of our customers".
The stores can be found in London’s Westfield White City and Manchester's Market Street.