Making technology more human at our Next Gen stores

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San Francisco Verizon retail store

San Francisco’s Market Street is one of the city’s grand thoroughfares for transit, commerce and culture. Described as a “street in transition” by the LA Times in 2015, in recent years the strip has been transformed by new restaurants and nightlife hotspots, an artisanal marketplace, prominent apparel shops and boutiques, and notably Twitter’s company headquarters. It’s here, next door to the fashion boutiques of nearby Union Square, on the buzzy destination street for tourists and locals alike, that Verizon has launched our newest Next Gen store.

Walk into the newly remodeled Verizon store on Market Street, and the first thing you’ll notice on the right side of the space is a large “experience gallery,” a 10x20 foot open space with five interactive displays. Here, visitors can strap into one of several Daydream View virtual reality headsets and take a tour of San Francisco’s iconic sites in an immersive, 360 experience. 

San Francisco Verizon Retail Virtual Reality area

Experience San Francisco in a new way

New Perspective is the project title of a joint VR content series co-produced by Verizon and RYOT Lab (an Oath company). The first volume includes three short films, collectively titled “A Love Letter to San Francisco.” The films, shot with 360 cameras, show viewers the Golden City in a way they’ve never seen it before.

In the first film, “Land,” showcases San Francisco’s natural environment, with immersive views of Redwood trees, sunny golden hillsides, foggy beaches, and Golden Gate Park. Part 2, “Water,” opens with a helicopter shot over the Golden Gate bridge, and treats viewers to several scenes of the bay, rocky shores, and other aquatic-themed spaces. (Listen and turn to see a barking seal at the end). Finally, “City” juxtaposes expansive cityscape views with shots that put you in the center of the action, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the city’s residents as they cross the street, ride the cable car, visit with friends over lunch or enjoy one of the city’s beautiful public spaces.

The early buzz about the New Perspective experience has been positive. “Customers walk in and bee-line straight to the VR demo” says Estela Arce, District Manager, Retail Sales. New Perspective will be available in stores across the country as they are converted to the Next Gen format – you can find one near you using the My Verizon app.

Most companies want to make their stores high tech, but for Verizon we are the technology, so we want to make our stores more human.

Verizon’s retail vision: Stores designed with you, the customer, in mind

Along the Flagship store’s walls, handsets, cases and accessories are organized like the best-sellers at your local bookstore. All accessories in the store are available for quick grab-and-go purchase. The open layout and large café tables give customers a place to test-drive a new device or try out new accessories, or set up their new device with the help of a solutions specialist.

The last thing you’ll notice – if you even notice at all – is how little floor space a Next Gen store uses for merchandise. In fact, we’ve been able to carry 25% more inventory using 50% less floor space thanks to the Next Gen store’s efficient use of space.

“The new design is simplified and streamlined; our goal from the beginning was to do more storytelling at the store level by making our products and services the centerpiece,” says Scott Zimmer, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Verizon. “Part of our inspiration came from traditional service-oriented sources, including newsstands, book stands and coffee shops. Most companies want to make their stores high tech, but for Verizon we are the technology, so we want to make our stores more human.”

The Next Gen store is an evolution of Verizon’s retail vision and an investment in our customers, based on the recognition that customers are learning to shop differently in the 21st century: frictionless, collaborative, and convenient. Rethinking our approach to brick-and-mortar stores to meet the expectations of an increasingly digital-first customer enables Verizon to retain a presence in the local communities we serve.

As a visitor to one of our Next Gen stores, you can shop on your own terms. When you’re ready to leave, checkout is fast and simple. The vision behind Next Gen stores is something between a convenience newsstand and a community bookstore, intended to complement the expectations and experience of mobile-based commerce in an ever-more connected world.

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