New Napa Xfinity store part of effort to help customers embrace latest tech

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Countering a trend by many retail chains toward closing brick-and-mortar locations or moving exclusively online, Comcast is doing the opposite.

On June 22, the company held a grand opening in Napa for its 300th Xfinity retail outlet.

“We’re opening stores at a rapid pace throughout California,” said Kristeen Cominiello, regional vice president of sales and marketing. “This is our 15th new store in 18 months, and we plan to add seven more in 2020. Our goal is to make these new stores exciting and engaging by investing in interior designs and floor layouts that look like home, so customers can envision how these services would enhance their own dwellings. Feedback has been very positive.”

In addition to Napa, Comcast has similar Xfinity outlets in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Folsom, Monterey, Sunnyvale, Vallejo, Tracy and South Fresno.

Cominiello said given the crucial role complex technology plays in the lives of consumers, Comcast discovered that people want to see, touch and experiment with innovative new products, rather than just shop for them on the web. As they learn, they ask a lot of questions, get answers and enjoy “playing” with the services.

“We have been changing the purpose and role of our stores since 2015 as we transition from a transactional model and create a fresh, new interactive Xfinity retail shopping environment,” she said.

At the same time, Comcast is training staff experts to be better educate consumers on how to use each service as well as how to integrate them in a fast emerging, interconnected digital world of communications.

“Instead of just serving as a place where customers pay a bill and get equipment, we now can show all Xfinity products and demonstrate how they work alone or together to enhance our lives,” said Jonathan Szabady, Napa Xfinity retail store manager for Comcast Cable.

He said most teenagers today seem to automatically know how most electronic things work, but older people sometimes have fears when it comes to upgrading systems, such as using the X-1 platform, downloading digital apps or just talking to a remote. This new store concept addresses customers at all stages of technology adoption and familiarization.

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

In addition to in-store training, Comcast Xfinity offers helpful videos and focused discussions at six Experience Stations arranged in a well-lighted, open floorplan with each devoted to specific services and product demonstrations:

Main stage/reception: Presenting an overview of the full experience customers will receive with videos featuring kid’s movies, Golden State Warriors games, and X1 entertainment offerings, etc.; • Entertainment (Amazon Prime video, NetFlix, etc.), where consumers learn about what Xfinity offers and literally see the big picture.

Xfinity connected home: Controlling lights, temperature, turning on air conditioning, or anything a consumer plugs into an outlet and can do through an app or compatible with a TV remote – including locking the front door.

Internet: With an overview of network speeds, modems, links with apps and Xfi — Xfinity’s WiFi — including the ability to monitor systems, secure settings, get alerts, set parental controls and block sites, as well as see determine which devices are currently in use.

Mobile services: Using iPhones, iPods, iPads and soon new Apple watches, etc., utilizing the Verizon network, with autoconnection to 16 million WiFi hot spots nationwide.

Integration: Demonstrating how services can be tied together (Internet + TV + pods + home security, etc.), with advice and visual examples on how customers can move to the next level and gain the ability to interact with Xfinity offerings.

Szabady said they held a soft launch for the Napa store in March to gauge customer reactions and have seen a steady increase in both customer traffic and interest in exploring new possibilities.

“We see ourselves as tour guides for the journey to experience what is here today, but also what is possible, such as a transition from voice remote control to eye control technology to change channels, anticipating other emerging web-based technologies and highlighting services for customers with different abilities,” he said.

Napa officials and Comcast executives attended the ribbon cutting for the store, located at 308 Soscal Ave. A $30,000 donation check was presented to nonprofit Ole Health.

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine signed his new book, “Family Table,” and gave away 75 copies. He had a fireside interview by NBC Sports Bay Area Reporter Amy Gutierrez.

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