AT&T has ambitious plans to expand its existing footprint of 5,300+ company- or dealer-owned stores with 1,000 new locations in the next 18 months. But they’ll come in all different shapes, sizes and formats: the telecom giant plans on opening traditional, pop-up and mobile stores.
The pop-up stores will be located in apartment buildings and other locations in dense urban environments, where the smaller, more flexible format is designed to reach customers faster. The telecom company can typically open these stores within 60 days of signing a lease, and plans to launch a total of 100 pop-ups this year, according to a company statement.
The company also is opening 150 more mobile stores — stores on wheels that AT&T can take on the road by the end of 2018. These are often seen at AT&T sponsored events, or when the company launches its AT&T Fiber service in new neighborhoods, but the stores are even more valuable in places hit by natural disasters where people need immediate assistance.
The mobile stores launch coincides with AT&T’s partnership with FirstNet, a government organization built to establish, operate and maintain an interoperable public safety broadband network.
To craft the physical expansion strategy, AT&T consulted across the retail industry, including banks and with Warby Parker, according to Tyler Jacobson, a company spokesman.
The strategy was based on the company’s analysis of customer traffic patterns, both at stores and online. Specifically, pop-ups will enable the company to test traffic, according to a report from Digiday. If after a few months the store isn’t generating enough activity, the company can quickly move it to another location. By contrast, if a pop-up shop is generating significant interest from customers, it can be kept open for a longer period.
AT&T also is building out the tech offerings in its physical stores, experimenting with self-serve kiosks and a soon-to-open cafe-style Seattle pilot store where customers can carry out most tasks using their phones.