What's driving the UX at Samsung KX?

Samsung KX opened in London’s Coal Drops Yard on 31 July, and it is doing retail in a very different way to the norm.

For one, it’s not set up for visitors to make a purchase. If they really want to buy an item they can approach staff, who will make an online order for home delivery – but the main aim of the space is to host events, showcase new technology, and allow people to try new things, such as virtual reality headsets and ‘smart’ connected fridges.

And secondly, those employed at the King’s Cross venue have been recruited from the arts, hospitality, and sports worlds. All of whom are encouraged to help shape the space as it evolves with the needs of its visitors.

With this set-up and some of the technology on show not even publicly available – Internet of Things solutions like connected car concepts are there to inform consumers about the direction of travel in technology – it is certainly not a store. Indeed, Samsung is actively avoiding using that word, calling it a space for experience and inspiration.

Staff and customer service driving UX

As it is a space frequented by one of the largest technology companies in the world, it seems pertinent to talk about its user experience (UX). And Samsung has made more effort than most to put staff at the heart of its UX.

While John Lewis spoke last year about providing staff acting lessons ahead of a flagship London store opening, which prompted debate around the need for more theatrical skill in customer service, Samsung actually recruited from the creative community.

And as if preparing for a big performance, the 88 recruits spent four weeks in a dedicated pop-up training facility in London’s Shoreditch to immerse themselves in Samsung culture and learn about the unique aims of Samsung KX. Naturally, it also allowed staff to get to know each other, bond – and, in the case of some, form a band.

Chris Wareham, managing director of Samsung recruitment and training partner Mash Staffing, says: “Working in an incredibly collaborative way, Mash applied the latest techniques in staff training and development to Samsung KX in response to the Samsung team’s genuine investment in people.

“We’re confident this approach will have the desired impact in bringing the future of retail to today’s world: one that is centred around brilliant people delivering unique and memorable experiences.”

Mash also delivered a bespoke app for Samsung KX staff, where users can experience everything from training content, weekly schedules to a wellness hub. Staff are encouraged to check in digitally after each shift, sharing how they are feeling, which is ultimately expected to help measure their overall engagement, wellness and development.

The tech behind the UX

The Samsung Galaxy smartphone plays a central role in the curation of activities and product displays at KX, with customers able to customise phone covers, use it to create music at a dedicated DJ station, or see how it plays a role in the connected home.

But the most prominent retail technology deployment is the 10-metre-wide vertically curved 1.5mm Samsung LED screen, which helps bring the theatre-like area at the back of the venue to life. It’s the area where local performers and programmes such as yoga, and talent shows will take place.

A range of partners, including Cheil and Snelling Business Systems, were brought in by Samsung to implement the design and support on the installation of the necessary audio visual and IT infrastructure.

The in-house café, called Origin, facilitates cashless payments for guests. Heatherwick Studio, Brinkworth and Portview all aided the design process, which when combined with the historic local architecture of Coal Drops Yard creates a unique space.

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