Every time I see one of these pink T Mobile stores I wonder if the glowing pink walls, circa 2011, have translated into increased sales. The design, we are told, creates a positive customer experience by sporting an open plan, service desks, interactive centers, merchandising that puts device and accessory together, and mostly a wow factor. In 2013 & 14 the number of customers increased dramatically thanks, we are told, to T Mobile’s “Uncarrier” program. Whether the store design has had an impact is hard to say, excepting the wow factor part, which to my way of thinking has little to do with the customer’s experience and everything to do with presence in the mall scape. Maybe, in a retail market where products are sold across every media type, showing up is all that is required from the actual “bricks & mortar” store.
I question whether the same “just show up” type of design strategy works very well for product lines more dependent upon customer interaction to complete a sale. I would suggest that, in this situation, the wow factor can actually cancel the customer experience, which is exactly what is happening to the sun glass shop in the photo. Extreme light levels, positioned behind the merchandise, combine with the white “daylight” color temperature to obscure all product detail and and cast a ghoulish glow onto a shopper, even to the extent that the very white walls actually appear gray. If this is not enough, the edge lit shelves become a focal point, a gimmick, attracting more attention than the merchandise placed upon them. Theses are expensive displays with a lot of technology, and if creating a positive shopping experience is the goal, they fail miserably. It was actually painful to stand in the space. They do cause the store to jump out of the mall scape, though. Is it enough?