Verizon looking to build 200 'Next Gen' corporate stores: Wave7

Verizon's Next Gen flagship store in San Francisco. Image: Wave7 Research

Verizon is ambitiously—if quietly—taking a new retail tack with its Next Gen corporate stores, pushing virtual reality products as well as traditional phones and tablets. And the carrier may be working with Google to do so, according to a new report from Wave7 Research.

“Wave7 Research recently reported that Verizon has a proposal out that calls for the development of 200 Next Gen corporate stores over a period that appears to be two years, and at least two major Verizon dealers have been asked to test the program,” the market research firm said in a recent note to subscribers. “In an August press release, Verizon stated that its new Next Gen store in downtown San Francisco has a 10’x20’ open space with five Google VR stations, where customers can experience San Francisco via VR.”

Indeed, Wave7 said two of its analysts visited the San Francisco store two weeks ago “and found it surprising that nearly one-third of the store was devoted to Google VR displays.” San Francisco’s was the first such store to open its doors, and Verizon has opened 19 more across the country including four in Indianapolis.

“Given this and the Pixel arrangement, Verizon seems to be working closely with Google,” Wave7 concluded.

Verizon hasn’t crowed much about its new retail strategy—not yet, at least—but it did highlight the effort in a company blog post last month. The carrier hopes to create a roomier, less hectic environment in which customers can take their time as they browse phones and other devices and consult with retail staffers.

Verizon said the approach enables it to carry 25% more inventory using 50% less floor space.

“Along the flagship store’s walls, handsets, cases and accessories are organized like the bestsellers at your local bookstore,” according to the blog post. “All accessories in the store are available for quick grab-and-go purchase. The open layout and large café tables give customers a place to test-drive a new device or try out new accessories, or set up their new device with the help of a solutions specialist.”