New look Spark stores

Spark top front shopThe first new look Spark stores were unveiled recently in Sylvia Park and Albany and are the first of pilot stores to be rolled out. Following this, stores will be unveiled at Spark Northwest and Spark Queen St.

Spaceworks Design Group was engaged to transform the retail spaces so that Spark could lead the way in creating a new retail experience down under.

“Spark has been on a significant agenda of transition and transformation over the past few years and we knew the stores had to deliver on the constantly evolving digital future and had to inspire their expanding target market to connect, share and engage instore,” says Lizzi Hines, MD of Spaceworks Design Group.

“We were tasked with bringing both the tangible and intangible products to life and to inspire and engage existing and future customers through clever design. We wholeheartedly believe the design has achieved this in spades.”

After winning a rigorous RFP process in January 2015, Spaceworks selected the most experienced team for the job, with Hines overseeing the project and Christy Ormand, head of retail design at the helm of the account. The Spaceworks team worked alongside many of Spark’s divisions, including brand, operations and IT, customer experience, product, merchandising and project management to ensure everything that was important to Spark and its divisions were integrated into the retail stores.

“We needed to tick all the boxes for every Spark division and ensure all the ‘must-haves’ were weaved into the design of the store,” says Ormand.

“Every square metre of the retail space is fastidiously considered to guarantee an incredible customer experience. The Spark stores now showcase solutions for shoppers rather than simply being a room housing product. This is achieved by taking the product off the walls, cross merchandising and displaying product alongside accessories, which in turn creates a story for the shopper rather than racking and stacking merchandise.”

Spark’s head of consumer sales, Greg Clark said, “The time had come for us to evolve our store format to deliver the best possible experience for Spark customers and also for our frontline team. Clearly the big change for us has been the transition to a much more customer-focused brand in Spark and that needed to turn up at retail, which we ultimately see as being the physical face of the brand. Following a research trip on global best practice we had a very clear vision on the elements that we wanted to deliver and as a cross-functional team boiled this down to the following five things.

“Access to people (customers tell us that is the main reason that they enter); product as the hero (make it easy for customers to touch, play and understand products and services; the environment (make it welcoming and less intimidating than traditional retail); ease of access (ensuring that the store supports the increasing demand of customers to interact easily with us across multiple channels – capability will continue to evolve in this space as technology evolves so there is an element of how can we future-proof to plug some things in down the track); and operations (the format simply needs to work for customers and our staff so how can we become more efficient to enable the team to spend more time with customers).”

According to Hines, to ensure Spaceworks remains at the top its game it travels overseas to keep abreast of international retail trends. “On our last trip we saw that many industries, including food and telcos were taking a leaf out of the fashion merchandising handbook and displaying a story of product so the customer can easily visualize the full solution,”  she says.

Other exciting characteristics of the new look Spark stores are  hospitality zones where customers will be offered free Spark branded water, virtual queuing to allow customers to shop the store,  a lockable “charge your phone” cabinet, and a range of self-service payment facilities.

Other design features are the banquets and “cafe-esk” tables for a more casual, consultative sales process.

The Spark intangible home products are displayed ingeniously in and around contemporary cabinetry personifying a home TV wall unit. Curated storage solutions instore reduce the need for staff to leave customers to retrieve products and the counters are designed to strip away traditional “across counter” transactions, enhancing interaction between the customer and staff.

“There are many features within the store that may be missed by the untrained eye, however all have a raison d’etre for being there,” explains Ormand. “We deliberately chose not to install anything that was gimmicky or had a shelf life.

“Things such as the POS counters being integrated with display tables brings staff out onto the shop floor and the tables are designed to stand alone, however when pushed together the leg detail imitates an aspect of the Spark logo. The right hand side of the stores exhibit a timber ceiling feature which mirrors the timber floor below and delineates the customer service area, providing drama and weight to the space.”

The shopfront has been opened up, making the store more inviting and welcoming, with a portion of it dedicated to a framed glass box creating a gallery showcase for a Spark shopfront story.

“It was a collective agreement between Spaceworks and Spark not to do the expected such as featuring one or two of the latest phones in the window. The shop front display will now be far more creative and should capture the attention of people walking past by using interesting and engaging props and accessories that speak to the Spark intangibles and wider Spark community offerings,” comments  Hines.

Lighting is also a key feature and breaks all the rules of traditional telco stores. It steers clear of a prescriptive wash of light by ensuring a plethora of highs and lows within the store. This is achieved by using a combination of linear extrusion, LED spots (for the high points) and pendants at the front of the store to create a warm spectacle.

“Every design feature is subtle, however when pulled together creates a store environment which aligns with the Spark brand and unleashes the potential of all customers, past, present and future. It empowers the Spark retail staff and ensures product is hero through visual, interactive and audio sensory hubs. We believe the Spark stores are a feast for the senses, taking New Zealanders to a whole new level of retail experience,” Hines says.

“Spark will now spend time testing the changes made and will continue to refine so that decisions can be made around further refits across the network.”

“In Spaceworks we found a fantastic partner that really quickly understood what it was that we were trying to achieve and brought some excellent ideas to the table. Creatively they weren’t precious when we wanted to change something but also held really firm onto the things that they knew would make a difference. On top of that the whole way through they have just been really responsive, proactive, positive and easy to deal with,” concludes Clark.

“We are really happy with how well the trial stores at Sylvia Park and Albany have come to life so closely to the initial concepts and we are currently tracking performance against our five key objectives to feed into a broader national roll-out and the early signs are really positive.”

For interviews, more information or imagery, contact Melanie Spencer on 021 247 2518 or

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