TelcoTalk: Retail is Not Dead

Mid-section image of a group of young professionals with shopping bags standing in a line

In an era where almost anything can be ordered online, telco retailers are left wondering – is traditional retail dead?

Telcos are starting to realize that the days of easy money are gone. To stay alive, they need to up their game. Telco retail is in fact, not dead. Telcos need to consider how OEMs and device sales are affecting the telco retail industry and how they can come out on top.

Telco’s Biggest Threats

1. OEM Takeover

The device leaders like Apple and Samsung are doing a great job of crafting a vision and lifestyle surrounding their products. They’re quickly becoming the masters of experiential tech and they’ve got their own retail stores. Compared to the average telco, they’re leaps and bounds ahead.

The danger here is if the OEM is controlling the vision and it’s got its own retail store…why does that customer purchase that device from the telco? The last thing that telcos want is to become a dumb pipe that only provides data services.

2. Devices Sales – Not What They Were

Despite what the techies and fanatics will tell you, most phones are functionally the same. Most new models offer only minor upgrades. So, what is the incentive for the average customer to upgrade their phone? Device sale profits are not what they once were. Market penetration in some areas is more than 100%. So, if you’re not selling as many phones as you used to, where does telco profit come from?

Is All Hope Lost?

Should telcos just pack it in now? Of course not!

The telco’s saving grace will be found in two words: “Customer Experience”. Most customers now visit stores looking for help with their device or for service issues. The retailer that wins the experience battle will win the ultimate prize of the repeat customer.

Tell Captivating Stories

Retail is not going away. We are not living in George Orwell’s 1984. At the core of humanity, we still crave interaction – we’re pack animals after all. We want to congregate, and retail plays a part there.

Telcos that showcase stories and experiences will have nothing to fear. It’s about creating a place where people come to talk with experts, touch, see and hear the future. Show customers the art of the possible and engage them at a deeper level, rather than just showing them a phone that is tethered to a display.

The Future

The stores of the future are Digidextrous. They’re run by IoT, they use the smartest tech possible. They’re User Experience driven – a theatre of everything possible. And there are many tech retailers who are already doing this today!

In my next blog, I’ll explain the key elements of the Digidextrous store and what you should include in your retail environment.

Did you like this blog? To watch the TelcoTalk video series, visit Maplewave’s YouTube Channel.

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