Rogers opens doors to its first 5G-ready interactive flagship store

Google showcases 'Pixelville' in the store, giving customers a hands-on experience with its new phones

Rogers has officially opened the doors to its first flagship, 5G-ready, experiential store right in the heart of downtown-Toronto’s Dundas Square.

The store, which is located at 302 Yonge Street, has replaced the Forever 21 location on the corner of Yonge and Dundas.

The two-storey space incorporates different experiences but at the front features a traditional smartphone retail space. Devices are separated by manufacturer, giving each company its own table with a suite of products that customers can check out.

Bruce Herscovici, vice-president of branded retail at Rogers, said during an interview that each product table features built-in interactive screens that tell customers about the products. The Google table was equipped with the latest Pixel 4 devices, Nest devices and more, while different tables featured a variety of other devices and products.

Herscovici said that there will be about a dozen or so Rogers employees readily available to help customers at all times.

In order to maintain transparency, the Toronto-based carrier has a framed copy of the Wireless Code that customers can read to better understand their rights when signing up for services.

“We want to be transparent and [we are] making sure customers are well aware of what we stand for and what we need to live up to in terms of expectations,” Bruce Herscovici said.

Google’s Pixelville presents interactive space

Customers will also be able to gain a better understanding regarding how specific phone features work in this new retail space, Herscovici explained.

Different manufacturers will have the opportunity to create an interactive space that showcases devices, how to use them and the benefits 5G offers.

The first company to partner with Rogers is Google and in the new space, customers will get to visit ‘Pixelville.’

Christina Peck, Google Canada’s spokesperson, said during an interview that the space has various vignettes “for customers to be able to experience how helpful our products are in their day-to-day life.”

“What they’ll get when they go through each room is a hands-on experience with the device that’s in that room, what it looks like and what the different features are,” Peck said.

The four rooms that Google has showcased include a Nest Hub apartment, the Astro Diner, the Motion Sense Studio and the Google Lens room.

The Nest Hub apartment is a mini kitchen equipped with Google’s Nest Thermostat, Google Nest Hubs and even a Google Nest Hub Doorbell.

Around the mini kitchen are phrases that a customer wanting to learn about Google’s commands can use.

Peck demonstrated by saying “Hey Google I’m home,” at which point the Google Nest Hub Max responded by offering her day’s schedule, before playing music.

The Astro Diner is a simulation of a night out at a retro diner, Peck explained. The purpose of this specific room is for a customer to understand how Google’s ‘Night Sight’ feature works, she said.

The Motion Sense room allowed users to understand how a real-life scenario of being in a gym could help users use the feature.

“It’s not easy to pick a smartphone, so having the opportunity to do some hands-on time in scenarios you can see yourself in is helpful,” she said, adding that there will be one to two Google representatives in each room.

5G possibilities showcased

Herscovici noted that at one corner of the space is what the company likes to call the “Connected Hub,” where customers can experience what their living room will look like when smart devices hooked to Rogers’ Ignite platform are powering it.

“All your connected devices, the key is our Ignite platform,” he said. “People can pretend they’re in a living room and demo the connected devices and how they all work together.”

Herscovici said there are Sonos speakers on display, LIFX lights, a Roomba and smart plugs all connected so a customer can see what a smart home with 5G technology could look like.

Another side of the store allows customers to experience the Live Nation room, which Herscovici explained showcases a live concert in a hologram.

It is worth noting though that Canada does not yet have all the spectrum necessary for a full 5G rollout. The next generation of wireless service isn’t expected to be broadly available to Canadians until 2021.

Rogers says new space is part of its ‘retail transformation’

Anne Martin-Vachon, Rogers’ chief retail officer, said during an interview that creating this space was part of the company’s retail strategy that involves putting the customer first. It is also a part of keeping up with the evolving space of what a retail experience is for a customer, she said.

“This is the very first for us. It’s about teaching and educating customers of what 5G and the world of its possibilities are,” she said. “Now it still also is a retail store, but there is also an interactive element to it.”

Martin-Vachon explained that while the interactive experiences will remain in the flagship store, some elements might be incorporated in other Rogers retail stores, like the interactive touchscreen tables.

She also added that a retail experience for customers is still important to the company, stating that over 80 percent of Rogers customers still get wireless services from a retail store.

“There are a lot of people, especially younger millennials, that do research online, but when it comes to complicated purchases or things they want to touch and feel they want to come to a store,” she said.

The second floor of the store includes a massive event space and a conference room for business meetings that Rogers says its business clients can book and use.

The store hours for the holidays are 9am to 9:30pm every day except Sunday, which is 10am to 8pm.

Regular hours are 9:30am to 9pm every day except Sunday, which is 10am to 7pm.