AT&T’s new retail stores are taken straight from Apple’s playbook — and that’s a good thing

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Open space. No cash registers. Reclaimed teak wood. This isn’t an Apple Store we’re talking about– it’s the new face of AT&T’s retail chain.

The company is preparing a significant overhaul of its retail stores, which will begin in Grange, Illinois before moving on to at least 15 other locations before the end of the year.

Not only will the new stores be easier to navigate, but AT&T is also introducing what it calls “Experience Tables,”  which will attempt to educate consumers via real-time product demonstrations.

More interesting than the new design, however, is the logic behind it: According to AT&T, in-store transactions are out and experiences are in. Stores, the company says, should be about experiencing and using products, not just trying to buy them.

“A retailer that is just in the transactions business is going to be out of business,” AT&T retail head Paul Roth quipped in an interview with AllThingsD.

AT&T’s Apple-like retail approach isn’t unique. Samsung, T-Mobile, Microsoft and even Best Buy have all introduced store designs that various observers have described as overtly Apple-esque.

And you know what? I’m completely fine with that. Every brick-and-mortar retailer should make their in-store experience less abysmal, and if they have to follow Apple’s lead to do so, so be it.

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