Earlier in the year, the roll out of the new KPN retail brand experience began. KPN is the largest telecom and IT service provider in the Netherlands, employing around 18,000 employees and operating across more than 100 stores.

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A revolution in customer experience

The reason that I want to highlight this particular new retail brand experience is that it is revolutionary in both its UX, customer experience and its application of technology. The new concept is already paying dividends through higher revenues and improved connectivity between the online and offline experience.

The easiest way for me to describe why this is the ‘new normal’, is as follows: Instead of wall to wall shelves, cabinets and POS-materials, this store doesn’t have any of these. The moment you walk in you begin asking yourself, what’s so different here? This is when you see that all of the walls, with the exception of the glass entry, consist of floor to ceiling digital screens. The functionality of the screens varies greatly, of course; on some you are able to touch the screens in order to configure a phone or contract, whereas others display branded movies and other relevant content.

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A new type of organisation

You may think, so what? To me, I immediately start thinking about how this has come together from an organisational perspective. There are a number of things to consider here:

Firstly, by plastering a retail environment with screens (‘smart walls’) you almost eliminate the need for traditional shop fitting. A completely different set of vendors are required in order to create an experience like this, which could be concerning news for the traditional shop fitting industry.

Secondly, there’s the need for the continuous availability of relevant content. Due to the ability to use new technologies such as infrared, Kinect, touch, RFID and more, the requirements for content are completely different from what they used to be in the ‘old’ retail branding world.

Thirdly, imagine the impact not only on vendors, but also on the organisation’s internal set up. Like many retailers, KPN used to be organised to mirror the supplier and vendor world. As this world is now changing radically, it also means that there’s a need for retailers to radically reorganise internally in order to keep up. Some functions are disappearing, and other functions with new requirements for different skill sets are being created in their place.

Lastly, the need for IT connectivity is completely different from what it used to be. It is no longer a matter of IT being used only for cashier functions and security etc. – no, now IT needs to ensure a seamless exchange of data and interactivity on the screens and the many functionalities that come with it. In order to ensure that the correct information is displayed in the right place at the right time, excellent internal coordination between marketing and IT is crucial, where previously they have never been this closely connected.

For more impressions on the new normal in retail brand experience, see how we worked with KPN to achieve this digital vision.