Maplin unveils new smart store concept

Technology retailer Maplin has unveiled a new store concept in Cambridge, allowing customers to fully engage with the latest Smart Home technology. The 290 sq m space at the Beehive Shopping Centre has been designed in distinct departments to showcase the benefits of, and allow interaction with, smart technology for the home.

Design consultancy 20.20's brief was to position Maplin as the go-to retailer for Smart Home products, attracting and engaging with a new type of customer, whilst retaining the retailer's loyal customer base.

When analysing the customer research and market data, 20.20 recognised that advice in the dynamic Smart Home technology sector is being provided by individual brands rather than retailers. This insight created an opportunity where Maplin could target an already active customer base and take ownership of the sector by enhancing the expertise of their in-store colleagues, to create a new omni-channel store experience.

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With this in mind, the central area of the store was transformed into a ‘Smart Life’ hub, with a distinctive LED lighting feature above it. Products are set up and displayed on tables, ready for customers to try out. By playing and interacting with the different brands and devices customers are able to see the benefits the technology can bring to their lives. Interactive tablets allow customers to browse product information, helping them make decisions at the point of sale, while store colleagues are on hand to offer advice. A new consultation space has been created where customers can further discuss their requirements, and arrange home audits and installation services with store colleagues.
 
Away from the ‘Smart Life’ area, store adjacencies have been reimagined to improve shoppability – from CCTV to Home Party equipment; to a new Gaming experience; to easier and quicker shopping for Electrical and Digital components.
 
A new in-store communication system has been designed to enhance the product stories through the use of engaging graphics, digital tablets and POS. The idea here is to connect with customers on an emotional level and engage them according to their shopping behaviour, leading to a seamless and confident purchase.
 
Hollie Down, 20.20’s design lead, says this radical new concept store will change the way customers shop and make Maplin the destination retailer for Smart Home technology: 'We have created a place where today’s customers can understand and engage with exciting new products and interact with friendly, knowledgeable store colleagues to discover and purchase the smart devices they need – whether they want a safer home, a more connected space, or just to be at the forefront of technology.

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'Smart products are still relatively new, and many customers haven’t had the chance to try them out. The Cambridge store has been designed to offer a real omni-channel experience, bridging the gap between the physical store and Maplin’s new online offering, which will match the store language.'
 
Oliver Meakin, CEO of Maplin, says: 'We chose to work with 20.20 on our Store of the Future because we felt that they would challenge us to stretch our thinking; making us feel uncomfortable in order to move our store proposition forward.
 
'We could not have made the leap without their support throughout the journey. Our fantastic, reinvigorated store is trading substantially ahead of expectations – which is down to the hard work of teams at Maplin and 20.20. Everyone involved should feel extremely proud, and we are looking forward to continuing our work with 20.20 as we optimise the proposition for rollout.'
 
The new store concept has been a fantastic success, with trading significantly outperforming the rest of the chain, and Smart Home sales increases of more than 130 per cent.
 
20.20 is currently taking the learnings from the Cambridge pilot store and developing the Smart Store concept for a further six sites, rolling out early in 2017.

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