EE's Showcase Store Design
We’ve been busy designing a series of ‘showcase’ stores the UK’s biggest mobile operator, EE. Following the success of these stores, including winning a coveted Silver DBA Design Effectiveness Award, the most prestigious award in our industry, the design is being rolled out across the estate.
The idea behind these stores is to ‘showcase’ the best service, the best network and products on offer from EE and BT (EE became part of the BT Group in 2016), positioning the brand beyond mobile phones and into the multi quad-play market.
These premium stores invite customers to get involved with the latest technology and network innovations. As well as exploring the latest mobile devices, customers can get hands on with live products such Google Home, Apple Watch, EE Live TV and Samsung's VR headsets.
To grab people’s attention, we developed a theatrical design language called ‘Show Time’, which uses exaggerated proportions and dramatic lighting for product displays and service experiences. At the same time, we didn’t want things to feel ‘hard-edged’ or techie. Unlike other retail store design companies, we understand how to get the balance right for your customers. So, we softened the space with personable elements and introduced an easy, conversational tone of voice.
The ‘cathedral' effect
The overall store experience is designed around the ‘cathedral’ effect, something we use quite a lot and that sets Quinine apart from other retail design store companies. High ceilings at the front of the store ‘wow’ customers as they step inside. Lower ceilings at the centre create a more ‘intimate’ space, for face-to-face chats with staff.
Once they’re in, customers are greeted by EE’s new showcase stage, a flexible display space, designed for all kinds of physical and digital experiences. EE staff use large digital screens and display props to engage with customers, with themes changing every three to six weeks, to keep everything fresh and relevant.
Promoting a six months free Apple Music offer, EE’s London stores launched with a gesture-controlled dance experience, with customer and staff dance moves popping up on a digital backdrop, while Nottingham store opened with a dedicated iPhone 8 event.
We put familiar devices like phones and tablets right at the back of the store, so that people get the chance to browse new products and services as they walk through. An illuminated wall and dramatic, oversized product displays invite customers to browse, select and compare.
In addition, we also developed a flexible display system that works in existing stores and allows new product ranges and categories to be easily switched around and merchandised by store staff.
Thanks to our mobile till system, people can pay anywhere in the store. This frees up floor space as there’s no need for a traditional service desk. It also makes things far more fluid and flexible, with different opportunities and nooks for interaction between staff and customers.
EE’s commitment to service is highlighted by a dedicated Help Hub, positioned in the heart of the store. It is set away from the walls to encourage customers and staff to walk around and use the whole structure. Raising the height of the Help Hub by 70mm, subtly encourages customers to lean in, a more comfortable and informal way of connecting with staff.
Familiar yet modern
We came up with a familiar yet modern look and feel. We used European white oak and felt-like fabrics for upholstered seating in the service areas. A subtle palette of grey, black and white walls is lifted by powder-coated metal in the aqua and yellow EE brand colours. There’s soft seating throughout the store, with round café style tables creating a relaxed, open ambience, and no barriers between customers and staff, while privacy booths provide quiet spaces for more in-depth demos and form filling.
Dynamic signage helps customers find their way around easily, and brings a light, fresh friendly tone to the store. There’s also a brand wall featuring a local hand-drawn sketch of the relevant city, subtly connecting the store to the local community.
The format we’ve devised is flexible, modular and scalable, with versatile fixtures and architectural details which allow it to be applied to different types and sizes of stores. Moreover, the disruptive design is a huge commercial success, delivering for the business, the brand, customers and staff.
To understand how we approached this store design, why it was so effective and the impact it had on EE's business, please download our winning entry to the DBA's Design Effectiveness Awards.
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