Smart Home focused Maplin store sees category sales increase 130%

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Strategic design consultancy 20.20 has worked with technology retailer Maplin to change its retail proposition in Cambridge, creating a store where people can fully engage with the latest Smart Home technology, the company has revealed.

The 20.20 team transformed the 290sqm space at the city’s Beehive shopping centre, designing distinct departments to showcase the benefits of, and allow interaction with, smart technology for the home. The brief was to position Maplin as the go-to retailer for Smart Home products, attracting and engaging with a new type of customer, while 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.

With this in mind, the central area of the store has been transformed into a ‘Smart Life’ hub. 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, the company notes. 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.

At the heart of the ‘Smart Life’ hub is an interactive table, where customers explore how different products and brands link together, demonstrating a fully-integrated Smart Home experience.

A new in-store communication system has also been designed to enhance the product stories through the use of engaging graphics, digital tablets and POS. The idea, 20.20 says, is to connect with customers on an emotional level and engage them according to their shopping behaviour, leading to a seamless and confident purchase.

20.20 design lead Hollie Down believes the new concept store will change the way customers shop and make Maplin the destination retailer for Smart Home technology. She explained: “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.

“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.”

Maplin chief executive Oliver Meakin said: “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 seen trading significantly outperform the rest of the chain, with Smart Home sales increasing by over 130%.

20.20 is taking the learnings from the Cambridge pilot store and developing the Smart Store concept for a further six sites, due to roll out early in 2017.

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