PCR June Big Interview: Exertis creates immersive gaming realm in the depths of Hamley’s basement

An exciting new gaming zone was recently launched by Exertis in the basement of world-renowned Hamleys toy store in Central London, creating a new gaming retail space. Michelle Winny, Editor of PCR caught up with Jonathan Sutherland, Sales Director, and Rob Fitzsimons, Marketing Director at Exertis to gain some insight on this sensational new venture.

Gaming enthusiastic were treated to an incredible launch event as Hamley’s lower ground floor was overhauled by Exertis’ dedicated team of gaming specialists, to create a re-imagined and fully immersive visitor experience, offering a dedicated multi-brand, gaming space, with interactive zones for visitors to play and explore. Key highlights include a ‘Pit Stop’ Racing Area, Razer laptops and other state of the art tech, showcasing BAFTA Games Award winners, ‘Forza Horizon 5’, ‘Fortnite’, ‘Gran Turismo 7’, ‘Rocket League’ and ‘Minecraft’. If you fancy brushing up on your gaming skills, them a team of highly-trained Hamleys Gamers are on hand to give tips and tricks on how to win points, level-up and become a gaming champion.

The 3000sq. ft. of space, with 13 play zones and LED lighting offers themed areas bought to life by specific game genres.

Jonathan Sutherland, Sales Director, and Rob Fitzsimons, Marketing Director at Exertis explain why this is a space all gaming enthusiasts must make a pilgrimage to, to experience the spectacular.

Can you tell us more about the new gaming zone in Hamley’s basement and why this partnership is so important?
Jonathan Sutherland: We’re thrilled to have devised and designed the new gaming zone in Hamleys’ lower ground floor. Our team has overhauled the area to create a re-imagined and fully immersive visitor experience, and it’s in fact the only dedicated multi-brand gaming space in London.

Hamleys approached us to rejuvenate this space, and the project demonstrates our true value-add for both our vendors and the retailer itself. Due to the retail landscape changing, and the shift to online shopping, there’s an ever-decreasing opportunity to get a hands-on shopping experience – however, in the gaming arena, immersive experiences are key for gaining a full sense of how a product looks, feels and interacts with each individual.

From conception to launch, we worked closely with Hamleys and our vendors to bring our combined visions to life, culminating in a launch event.

Rob Fitzsimons: The space is innovative and offers our vendors an entirely new route to market in what is the busiest toyshop on the planet. Not only is the gaming zone a new opportunity for us and our vendors – it is an unrivalled hands-on experience for customers and is something that our team alongside the people at Hamleys worked hard to materialise. The Hamleys and Exertis partnership is, as a result, tremendously beneficial; not just between the two partners, but for vendors and consumers as well.

What innovations does it integrate to maximise the user experience?
Jonathan Sutherland: Razer esports is at the centre of the zone, where customers can get hands on with the latest Razer technology, for example, laptops, mice and gaming chairs.

The Pit Stop area brings together gaming chairs, steering wheels and the best driving games to allow customers to become fully immersed in the experience of racing – a genre which is buoyant – with tech from brands such as Hori.

Customers can get hands-on with elite controllers, headsets and consoles from Xbox and Turtle Beach, and also learn about the value of Game Pass.

Has Hamleys had a gaming zone before or is this a totally new experience? If so, how?
Jonathan Sutherland: Yes, there used to be a game concession – however the new zone has now increased Hamleys’ proposition to their gaming customers to be best-in-class. We are so proud of the project, and how, together, we’ve harnessed the interests of current and future gamers, and given them a zone in which to explore, learn and engage.

Can you tell us more about Hamleys’ Gamers?
Jonathan Sutherland: In partnership with our vendors, we’ve carried out a comprehensive staff training programme to the Hamleys’ Gamers, to give them the skills required to enable improved assisted selling and education to the consumers, so they feel confident in what they are buying and what its best suited to their gaming needs.

Tell us more about Hamleys’ Streaming Pod, what does this offer?
Jonathan Sutherland: This space is ideal for the budding YouTubers, TikTokers and Twitchers of the future – the streaming space educates consumers about how to present and stream online, and the technology required to make content production and streaming as seamless as possible.

Rob Fitzsimons: The Hamleys Streaming Pod is at each visitor’s disposal and allows gamers to capture streaming content on-the-go in the coolest of settings downstairs there at Hamleys – in amongst top-of-the-range gaming chairs, tech, and a blacked-out, high contrast interior design.

Can you tell us more about the key brands in the gaming zone and who we can expect to find there and the latest gaming tech they are offering?
Jonathan Sutherland: Xbox – Series X and S consoles, 1st and 3rd party accessories, Game Pass (Xbox and PC), 6 units of playable Razer ‘Blade’ Laptops ranging from 14 to 17 inches. The full range of Razer products are available across all consoles, PC and Mobile. Hori, Turtle Beach, Nintendo, and Playseat plus many more to come.

Can you tell us more about the interactive zones and ‘Pit Stop’ Racing Area, Razer laptops and other state of the art tech, and what games are showcased?
Jonathan Sutherland: We’re proud to showcase the biggest and best games in the gaming market, and customers can come along to Hamleys and try their hand at BAFTA Games Awards winner ‘Forza Horizon 5’, ‘Fortnite’, ‘Gran Turismo 7’, ‘Rocket League’ and ‘Minecraft’, using top of the range tech and with experts on hand to answer any questions (and help them score higher!). Certain parts, such as the racing game area, are equipped to withstand high traffic to minimise downtime and allow maximum availability for visitors to the zone.

What does this major announcement mean for Exertis?
Jonathan Sutherland: It puts Exertis at the forefront of retail, and this initiative has demonstrated a wide variety of services we offer both vendors and retailers. It showcases our partnership approach on our collaboration with a multitude of vendors from an external perspective, and internally, cross-function with multiple stakeholders.

Hamleys is the most iconic toy and games retailer, and we are proactively looking to work with partners on stores of the future. Technology moves so fast and has to be enjoyed hands-on – questions, which cannot be answered remotely are: “what does the keyboard feel like? How does the mouse move? How does a curved screen benefit my experience and enjoyment of a game?” – it’s difficult to appreciate these elements without getting hands-on.

Rob Fitzsimons: We’ve been really pleased with the collaborative nature of Hamleys. From a marketing perspective, this has been – and continues to be – an enjoyable project to work on, and we hope to continue innovating in the gaming space for years to come.

Where does Exertis see the future of gaming headed and why is this such an important market to the company?
Jonathan Sutherland: Retail has to evolve to maintain its relevance. This gives a great example of what consumers are demanding now, and where the appetite for immersive experiences are in the future. The global gaming market continues to grow rapidly, and the UK is no exception, offering new retail destinations for consumers to get hands on with product is vital to support this growth. It’s a great way of demonstrating all aspects of gaming including Console, PC, & Mobile.

We are also going to launch direct ship capabilities at Hamleys – if a customer wishes to make a purchase, they have the option to order in-store for next day delivery, to make ease of shopping in London a reality. We hope to have this live in the autumn.

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