Hands-on digital lifestyle

"Saturn Connect" store concept attracts tech-savvy audience

Photo: Connect it area at Saturn Connect in Cologne; copyright: iXtenso/Günther

The Saturn Connect store in Cologne, Germany, is a hotspot for the digital lifestyle and a nirvana for digital natives. It is only the second store of its kind and was opened in October 2015. Located in the famous Schildergasse, it is within walking distance of the flagship store in Hohe Straße which also supplies the Saturn Connect shop. It boasts an area of approximately 5,400 square feet, spread over two levels.

Featuring approximately 8,000 articles, the product selection is tailored to fit the connected lifestyle. The four digital theme-related sections set the spectrum and simultaneously serve as drivers of innovation.

The "Connected Mobile" section is all about smartphones, notebooks, and tablets along with the corresponding services. "Connected Home" features products and solutions for a networked (connected) home whereas the "Connected Fitness" section showcases wearables, action cams, and wellness products. "Connected Discovery" focuses on innovations and novelties such as virtual reality glasses and appcessories, meaning small gadgets that can be controlled via smartphone.

Photo: overview of lower level at Saturn Connect; copytight: iXtenso/Günther

Overview of the lower floor of Saturn Connect: industrial chic meets digital highlights; © iXtenso/Günther

Award-winning store

One thing is clear when you first enter the store: nothing reminds you of the design of the typical Saturn stores. Here, futurism meets industrial chic, clean lines and reduced architecture meet digital highlights. Special products are presented in the foyer in small lighted display cases. These also include 3D miniature editions of employees as well as the "Store of the Year 2016" award. A "pop-up zone" with product exhibits that are changed every two to four weeks can also be found here.

Digital elements as far as the eye can see

Directly across from the "Best of Apple" section that features the complete product portfolio of the manufacturer is a touchscreen stand on the upper level. Here, customers can search for more products, order and have the items either directly delivered to the store or to their homes. This service is part of the store’s multichannel concept. The customer should have full access to the complete product selection at all times – whether that’s online, mobile or at the POS. A second stand is located at the lower level.

Another highlight is a "hypebox" on the lower level. This is a transparent touch display box. The Huawei P9 was presented in this case. Further information can be accessed via the touchscreen which works like a smartphone, while the product can be seen in the background. Further product descriptions, videos or the camera’s special features can be accessed by scrolling.
Photo: hypebox at Saturn Connect in Cologne; copyright: iXtenso/Günther

The hypebox works like a smartphone. Further product descriptions, videos or the camera’s special features can be accessed by scrolling; © iXtenso/Günther

One special feature is the store’s lighting and sound. Background music is delivered via the store’s own streaming service and the lighting is controlled by an app. The LED technology underpins the tech-savvy vibe. Intersecting tube lights incorporate the "connected world" theme. The entire store is also equipped with electronic shelf labels to be able to quickly respond to updated (online) price changes.

Digital natives as employees

One unique feature – and it set this store apart from the other Saturn stores – is the consulting aspect, the connected service. Ideally, associates are not only consultants or technicians, but most notably digital natives. That’s why they are equipped with tablets to consult customers individually; plus they all complete a four-week boot camp. Training courses and information events about new lifestyle products are also being offered to customers.

At the "Smartbar", customers get fast onsite support, are able to set up their cell phones, load up data or have defective devices immediately repaired on the spot. Associates are able to apply plastic film onto the devices and print covers. App consulting is also available.

Photo: 3D photo studio; copyright: iXtenso/Günther

A 3D photo studio attracts many customers to the store; © iXtenso/Günther

Customer experience: touching and testing permitted

The customer experience is also entirely different since the customer is intended to have an active, hands-on experience of the products. Generous spaces and a lounge invite everyone to test and try out products extensively. Football fans, for instance, can engage in virtual reality goal wall shooting in the Connect it area.

Right next to the Smartbar is a booth featuring a futuristic design concept. It is a photo studio with 70 cameras. The customer is captured in 3D and subsequently receives a 3D printed figurine. Some customers actually visit the store just to have individual toppers printed for their wedding cakes.

This store is also involved in after-sales programs related to the Photokina or Crime Cologne, for example, during which authors read their novels on eBook readers.

The former "Geiz ist geil" (English: Stinginess is cool) mentality has given way to focusing on the customer and enhancing the in-store shopping experience. On the one hand, the "Future Store" targets the lifestyle of the young, tech-savvy audience while it acts as a test market and multichannel store on the other. Should the concept prove successful, some elements could potentially soon find their way into the standard stores.

Author: Melanie Günther; EuroShop
First published at iXtenso.com