A real sound and light show. To celebrate the opening of its 200th store, Free wanted to renew the customer experience from top to bottom and create the famous “wow effect”. Based on the forecourt of Station F, the startup incubator owned by Xavier Niel, the operator’s boss, his new concept store has, in fact, no longer much to do with an ordinary telephone shop.

As its name suggests, the Big Bang Store intends to immerse the visitor in an immersive and multisensory experience. The curvature of the walls (no right angles), the varying light, the giant screens… “everything evokes the rotation of the planets and their revolution in space”, explains the press kit. The store seems to revolve around a “star star”: the Freebox Pop, the operator’s entry-level internet box.

To design this concept store, Free called on a studio specializing in local retail and an office layout specialist, Yemanja. The operator and this studio tried to answer two essential questions: Why do visitors come to the store? And why do they then talk about this visit around them? The answer lies in lived experience.

Visual, sound, tactile and olfactory experience

The Big Bang Store offers an unprecedented experience on its 80 m2 of retail space. Upon arrival, the visitor is greeted by a voice wishing him “welcome to the Free universe”. The soundscape has been spatialized with eight speakers and two subwoofers and “an original playlist made up of pop and spatial sound loops”, describes the press kit.

The experience is also visual – with two wall-mounted screens and a large cylindrical screen suspended in the center of the store – and tactile. Visitors can take out a subscription in a few minutes at one of the interactive terminals or sit down in a lounge to test the Freebox. He can also play on a self-service tablet one of the six video games developed by Lab Free and Ecole 42, another property of Xavier Niel, such as Free Fighter, a survival game.

Finally, the experience is intended to be olfactory. A mineral fragrance fills the concept store with “notes of flint combined with cedar”. At any time, one of the five point of sale advisers can trigger a “Big Bang”: “the lights go out, the sounds vibrate, the screens are crossed by comets…” The visitor can immortalize this moment of “fun” taking a selfie in front of the “infinity mirror”.

Circular economy and human contact

Open since May 23, the concept store, located at 81, rue Eugène Freyssinet in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, is nonetheless a commercial space. Visitors can find out about the entire range of smartphones offered by Free, take out a Freebox offer or mobile insurance or seek assistance in changing their SIM card and paying their bills.

As part of its strategy dedicated to the circular economy, the operator promotes refurbished mobiles and encourages their recycling. Refurbished smartphones are displayed in stores and available for pick-up. As in the other Free shops, a box is dedicated to the collection of used terminals.

Always with a concern for energy sobriety, Free has chosen to dispense with air conditioning – the windows have been treated to limit heat during periods of high exposure – and to use LED technology for lighting and screens. . These are switched off 30 minutes after the point of sale closes and switched on only 30 minutes before.

Make traditional telecom shops outdated

The lived experience being above all human, Yemanja and Free ensured that “the team in charge of the shop feels good there”. Particular care has been taken in the layout of the back office. This 20m² surface is not only a reserve and a cloakroom but becomes “a pleasant place to take a break”. Or how to bring together the best of digital and human.

This concept store perhaps responds to Free’s desire to stand out from its low-cost image that has stuck with it since its inception due to its pricing positioning. The Big Bang Store makes traditional telecom shops old-fashioned. This effort recalls, finally, that undertaken by Orange. In 2015, the incumbent operator inaugurated its Smart Store, an invitation, already, to renew the customer experience.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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