SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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Verizon teams up with Chute Gerdeman to transform the retail experience

New retail strategy and presence aligning stores across channels, starting with a destination store experience at Mall of America

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Verizon Wireless is totally transforming its customers' retail experience.  The bold new retail strategy is designed to unify customer touch points, connecting retail, online, mobile and customer service channels, and bringing the power of the Verizon Wireless network to technology retailing.

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In pursuing this transformation initiative, Verizon Wireless tapped Chute Gerdeman, a leading retail experience designer and strategic brand consultancy, to help craft its new retail strategy and develop the retail store design concept.  This approach will change the course of Verizon Wireless' retail presence across the entire fleet of 1,700 company-owned stores.

An integral part of the transformation was the recent opening of the 9,000+-square foot destination store at Mall of America.  The high-energy store is less about product than it is about lifestyle, as the state-of-the art, interactive and hands-on digital experience helps consumers understand how technology can impact their lives.

Chute Gerdeman's concept at The Mall of America Destination store features mobile lifestyle zones that provide devices, accessories, and apps to better connect to one's lifestyle. This transformation is about more than selling phones – it's about experiencing a more robust mobile life.  Each mobile lifestyle zone is staffed by trained specialists who invite visitors to experience families of connected smart phones, tablets, applications, gadgets and gear that can enhance their tech-savvy lives.

The Destination Store engages shoppers as they approach the store's exterior, and attracts them through iconic architectural features interactive digital experiences.  Intended to be a showcase for technology and innovation in our daily lives, the store offers shoppers unlimited ability to discover new products, and try them out in real-time.  Key to Chute Gerdeman's concept is the idea of discovery and exploration in the store environment.

Verizon's collaboration with Chute Gerdeman grew well beyond the new retail design concept to include merchandise assortment, staff training, real estate planning, and other aspects of Verizon's retail business.  Chute Gerdeman brought 25+ years of retail expertise to the table, spearheading the entire process, from initial strategic direction to concept design to store execution.

"The Chute Gerdeman team has been a great strategic collaborator and helped to deliver strategically sound, innovative and creative solutions for our reinvented retail business experience," said Domenico D'Ambrosio, Executive Director, National Retail Operations at Verizon Wireless.  "They worked with multiple departments within Verizon and alongside our many external partners in planning and executing this exciting new approach.  Throughout the process, their organization and leadership have been exemplary."    

"The Chute Gerdeman team crafted a strategy focusing on a new shopper-centric environment where interactive experiences go hand-in-hand with innovative technology merchandising," said Jay Highland, Chute Gerdeman's Vice President, Client Creative Partner.

Interactive displays across the store provide hands-on demonstrations and memorable, sharable experiences.  Training and education are core to the store design, giving shoppers the information they need to make informed shopping decisions while learning about new technology.  Curated smart accessory products across the store complement Verizon's selection of the hottest smart phone and tablet brands.  And the store is powered by the unparalleled Verizon network.

"This store is the first of its kind," added Highland. "Verizon has created a cutting-edge, yet accessible experience, where the store and the staff specialists speak in the language and lifestyle of the shopper, and where discovery and experiences are key.  In our collective experience, no other retailer has presented familiar technology categories of lifestyle products in such a compelling manner."

Verizon Wireless' new Smart Store concept brings lifestyle merchandising and interactive digital experiences into Verizon's neighborhood stores, and provides a seamless retail integration across the fleet.  With nearly 100 Smart Stores already open across the U.S., Verizon will transition all corporate-owned stores in the near future.

"The core concept of the Smart Stores is the same as the Mall of America store," said Lynn Rosenbaum, Chute Gerdeman's VP, Retail Environments.  "We've created a toolbox of experiences and designed modularity and flexibility into the concept to allow a scalable and fluid implementation.  Iconic architecture, material finishes, merchandising strategy, and the customer journey will all feel consistent across Verizon's entire retail footprint."

Adds Highland, "Verizon's bold step forward with their entire retail presence proves that physical experiences remain an integral part of any brand's multi-channel footprint.  Stores matter, and in the new Verizon stores, customers can experience technology retailing in an entirely new way."

About Chute Gerdeman
Chute Gerdeman (CG) is an award-winning strategic brand and design firm. Founded in 1989 by visionary leaders Elle Chute and Denny Gerdeman, CG has grown into a multi-disciplinary brand experience company with a global presence. Known for creating unforgettable environments, compelling communications and innovative business strategies, CG connects client, customer and brand. Guided by consumer insights, creative innovation and proven results, CG delivers unique solutions that best communicate clients' brand and spirit. The firm's core capabilities include intelligence, brand, design and implementation with expertise across a wide range of retail, restaurant, service provider and CPG brands. The firm's client list includes: American Family Insurance, C&A Brazil, ChampsSports, Disney, Domino's, Dunkin' Donuts, Foot Locker, Hamleys, Hanesbrands Inc., HMSHost, Kohl's, Kroger, LensCrafters, LimitedBrands, Lowe's, M&M'S/Mars, Macy's, Mattel, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, T.J. Maxx, Target and Verizon. With more than 175 awards, including four "Store of the Year" awards, the firm has become one of the most respected design firms in the industry.

SOURCE Chute Gerdeman

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