Can Store Design Persuade a Consumer to Switch Carriers?

Sprint's rollout of a next generation retail experience

Author: Maria Minsker

May 19, 2017

As Sprint prepares to open 1,000 more Boost Mobile locations throughout the US over the next year, the company is taking a fresh approach to in-store experience. The new locations will be “Next Generation” stores, according to Sprint, and will offer a more open layout designed to drive consumers to come in and switch providers. Nick Holt, creative director at Sprint Prepaid Group, spoke to eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about the new stores and the digital strategy that supports them.

eMarketer: Sprint recently announced the opening of ‘Next Generation’ Boost Mobile stores. Can you explain what that means?

Sprint's Nick Holt

Nick Holt: We are expanding our distribution plan, and part of that effort is our Next Generation store design. Many of our older locations tend to be cluttered, so we’ve made an effort to change that. We’re not trying to be the Apple store, but it’s our version of a great shopping experience.

eMarketer: What’s new and different about these locations?

Holt: We wanted to elevate the shopping experience by giving it a premium feel that allows for more interaction. In our older locations, most interactions happen behind the counter. One of the main goals for our new locations was to open things up and allow for our sales associates to walk out onto the floor and interact more with consumers. [We split the locations] into zones where different sales scenarios can play out and optimized them in a way that helps shoppers experience our products and services.

eMarketer: The aim of your most recent marketing campaign is to get consumers to switch over from other providers. How will the new in-store environment be conducive to switching? How will it drive that behavior?

Holt: From an advertising perspective, we're focused on driving awareness about the new, more welcoming Boost Mobile in-store experience. At the same time, in our TV spots, we are tapping into the key frustration points that consumers deal with every day, including expensive family plans, lacking areas of coverage, broken phones and other concerns. We want to deliver the best wireless value from a prepaid standpoint and be aggressively competitive on pricing, while establishing an environment where consumers can come in and see everything for themselves.

eMarketer: What was the biggest challenge in overhauling the in-store experience?

Holt: A big challenge was ensuring that our store model had flexibility from a modular standpoint, because different locations do have different square footage. We’re also heavily dealer-based, meaning we had to develop a model that was affordable for the dealers that operate Boost Mobile locations. We had to take all that into account while creating an experience that reflected the essence of the brand.

eMarketer: A good in-store experience has to be supported on the digital side. How does Boost Mobile’s digital experience reflect what’s happening in stores and vice versa?

Holt: We have a program in our stores called Channel B. It’s a digital in-store screen experience that consumers can engage with when they want to learn more about something. It features up-to-date content—including lifestyle- or location-based customer content—to drive awareness about our products and services. It’s basically as though there’s another salesman inside that screen.

We also have our online ecommerce experience, which connects to our in-store experience from a look and feel standpoint. Competitive pricing is [what differentiates us,] so that’s a thread that carries into our digital experience as well.

eMarketer: What advice do you have for other brands that are looking to improve their in-store experience?

Holt: Make sure you have a good understanding of what your brand tenets are. Know your in-store audience, and look for opportunities to innovate. Develop a modular model, and be prepared when location-specific problems come up. Lastly, make sure you have a hook to draw consumers in.