Bricks, mortar, popcorn and coffee

  • In association with Spark
  • September 21, 2015
  • Spark
Bricks, mortar, popcorn and coffee
Image: Spaceworks

Stark whites, bright fixtures and product lining the walls – it’s not a foreign image for anyone who’s been into a Spark (previously Telecom) store in the last six years, but it soon will be. When we became Spark just over a year ago we started exploring how our stores could reflect the new brand. This wasn’t just about a new look, but a completely new approach to how we connect with our customers.

Some colleagues and I travelled throughout America and Europe, getting a view on best practice retail in stores like Nike, Apple and Swisscom. These are tactile, inviting and engaging destinations. They offer what consumers increasingly expect from retailers – an experience.

On arriving home we began mapping out the main transaction types in our stores, thinking about how we could make them as positive as possible. To do this we partnered with Spaceworks, which quickly understood what we were trying to achieve. The Spaceworks team digested our findings from overseas and brought plenty of ideas to the table, creating a customer experience that sets a new standard for our bricks and mortar stores.

Creating an experience

Our main driver was to deliver the best possible in-store experience for our customers and frontline staff. The biggest piece of feedback we get in-store is, “Your team are awesome, but we want greater access to them.” To deliver this we’ve set up point of sale (POS) stations throughout the store as an interim step to conducting mobile transactions.

We’ve also introduced virtual queuing and have ensured that if customers ever have to wait, it’s as enjoyable as possible. There are bottles of water they can drink and cafe-style tables where they can sit and use the Wi-Fi. At our concept store on Queen St we’ve teamed up with Flight Coffee to provide customers with home-roasted, barista-made coffee.

We did some research and found that many New Zealanders find technology intimidating to shop. We wanted to make technology accessible and highlight how it can enrich lives, so we created a more tactile environment, moving product off the walls and onto tables where people can gather in groups, discover and play. Our product stories are also being told in more tactile ways. Spark customers get discounted movie tickets, so our Queen St store will have a popcorn machine that works at certain hours of the day, just to bring some theatre to the offer.

There’s been a global trend amongst telcos to colour their stores in brand colours. What it means is people come in-store and are distracted by the bright fixtures. On our trip we met the designer of the first Apple store. He’d made it really neutral so the space was all about the product. We’ve headed in a similar direction with our new fit-outs, using neutral tones so that the shop gets out of the way, people are brought to the forefront and the product is hero. We’ve also softened the space with timber tones to make it warmer and more comfortable, encouraging people to spend longer in the store.

Another trend we’ve pushed back on is the tendency to load stores with technology. We’ve made sure that any extra tech we use is there specifically to improve customer experience and enable our team to do a better job.

A new kind of store

Digital technology will continue to drive developments in retail, so we’ve ensured the new fit-outs can be easily adapted for future change. The fixtures are modular and our sales stations can be easily removed when our POS becomes mobile. We’ve also allocated space for self-service machines. Before long our customers will be able to come in and self-manage their accounts.

There’s no doubt it’s an interesting time for bricks and mortar stores. We’ve got the task of winning customers who can jump online and order the same products from almost anywhere in the world. To compete with that, stores have to be a destination worth travelling to.

Our stores have come a long way – from stark tones and immovable counter tops, to staff sitting down with people over quality craft coffee for a personal consultation. This is where the customer retail experience is heading in New Zealand and we’re proud to be among the Kiwi retailers who are leading the way.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


A challenger appears: Homegrown furniture giant Nido to compete with Ikea

  • News
  • January 21, 2019
  • The Register team
A challenger appears: Homegrown furniture giant Nido to compete with Ikea

Within a few weeks of confirmation that Ikea will come to New Zealand comes the announcement that New Zealand’s largest-ever retailer is set to open in Auckland. This new mega-retailer is nothing to do with Ikea, however: it’s a homegrown furniture and homewares concept store called Nido.

Read more

Getting drastic about plastic

Government plans to phase out single-use plastic bags have been heartily embraced by leaders in the grocery sector, but there are plenty of other ways ...


H&M extends footprint into Auckland

  • News
  • January 17, 2019
H&M extends footprint into Auckland

H&M has continued to strengthen its portfolio of stores in New Zealand. The Swedish fashion chain is now brining a third store to the Auckland region, to be located in Botany Town Centre.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
Sponsored content

Why unified commerce changes everything

eStar chief technology officer, Matt Neale discusses why true unified commerce changes everything


Jack Ma to step down from Alibaba position

  • Who's Where
  • January 15, 2019
Jack Ma to step down from Alibaba position

Jack Ma, executive chairman of shopping platform Alibaba has announced plans to step down September of this year.

Read more

Bottoms up: Absolut Vodka takes a stance on sustainability

  • News
  • January 14, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
Bottoms up: Absolut Vodka takes a stance on sustainability

A new responsible cocktail era is on the cards as Absolut Vodka introduces its new sustainability focused campaign, The Green Hustle.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit