“Time has no divisions to mark its passage; there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” – Thomas Mann

A flagship offer must attract. It must be at the front and centre of a brand’s showcase, embodying current innovation while fostering a sense of the unknown in its future projections.

Flagship stores are not really so much for shopping per se, rather about a kick ass power statement, an environment to leave consumers feeling intrigued, excited and immersed within.

Above all they should be great fun, contemporary, futuristic; showcasing what is possible within the brand. A simple evocation of “wow” from the potential customer is all that needs to be heard to justify money well spent.

And so it is when we look at Telstra’s flagship store, aptly named ‘The Discovery Store’ in Sydney. From digital tablets, minority report tables, interactive screens, the connected home, touch screens to touch as much as you can, through to zones for convergence and divergence.

On entering the store, you enter what Telstra describes as an ‘environment built around you’. Everything from the layout to zoning caters for this combination of classic retail meets digital technology.

For the early-adopter tech consumer, you’re greeted by a floor to ceiling interactive digital display to capture your attention and instantly immerse you in the store experience.

For the classic consumer, you have the option of two POS desks to give you a destination to aim for; or you may be greeted by a member of the store staff who will allocate you a personal sales assistant based on your initial needs and requirements to guide you around the store and ultimately to your purchase.

Telstra Discovery Store 2

As you enter the zoned journey around the store, every part of the experience is personalised and can be as tech-savvy or as simple as you require.

The interactive tablets and ‘Play & Learn’ table offer you an almost endless supply of information about the products, with the combination of the ‘tap and take’ card saving the product data, allowing you to easily revisit products at home online or at a later date.

Don’t fancy all this technology? The products are still physically there in store for you to touch, hold and have the classic sensory experience we as human beings desire.

If you’re seeking an accessory for your phone/device, the merchandise is displayed in a classic linear wall display, allowing you to take the product off the shelf and to a point of sale.

While this classic merchandise display is effective and familiar for customers, the digital element in this case, actually enhances the staff experience and day to day running of the store.

The digitally controlled price tickets, allow the store staff to update displays in one click, saving hours in inventory management, allowing them more time and energy to be spent on ensuring great customer service.

Telstra Discovery Store3

So, you’ve been on the journey around the store, had a face to face discussion with your sales assistant or played around on the interactive tablets (or perhaps both!), and you finally wish to make a purchase.

The classic point of sale table directs consumers seeking the classic retail experience to a final destination to make the sale.

However if you’ve embarked on the omni-channel digital store experience rather than the more classic path to purchase, you’ve probably already made your purchase with your personal sales assistant through their payment system on the company tablets and you’re a satisfied customer, ready to go.

This store is a great example of flagship retailing. The flagship is a chance for retailers to truly engage customers with who you are as a brand, your values and immerse them into your world organically creating strong brand loyalty.

This store manages to do this whilst catering for a wide audience; being innovative in its use of technology but not losing the magic touch of back to basics retailing that is never going to fade.

I know that we don’t typically spend anywhere near as much as on this fitout, although we can learn a little and dream a lot.

First published on Inside Retail, 2nd September 2015