In my last blog, I shared my insights and observations about the Greek telco market.
Now, I’m taking it a step further and analysing the telcos themselves in comparison to each other.
OTE Group is the original fixed-line operator and a dominant player in the Greek market across wireless, fixed-line, and TV products. They also own Germanos, bringing their retail chain to well over 750 environments across both formats.
OTE’s store design falls a little on the old-fashioned side. The stark white walls and fixtures do provide a bright feeling and there’s a good mix of products displayed (over 50 mobile phones and tablets).
However, displays and promotional materials are basic and display devices show dark screens – not very inviting to test out. I also found the stores to be fragmented with TV and cashier zones at the back, and lots of traffic queues for simple transactions like bill payments. The front of the stores are mainly wireless, but the sales staff are stationary and aren’t keen on engaging browsing customers.
There’s a good range of accessories in the store for both mobile and TV - you can even buy actual TVs in conjunction with a package! But the stores really let themselves down with their fragmented journeys.
I actually did purchase a MiFi device from OTE, but my experience was mediocre as best. My transaction was over in an acceptable 5 to 7 minute time frame, and I signed using a digital pad, both positive points so far. Then, I was taken to the back of the store, where the device was taken from me and given to a cashier, who was busy serving someone else. I had to wait another 5 minutes for them to finish with that customer, and then another 5 minutes to complete the transaction.
What started as an efficient experience, quickly turned out to be inefficient and slow one. And to top it off, as the advisor was placing the SIM into the device, they didn’t show me how to review the SIM balance or how-to top-up. Disappointing for sure!
There’s always room for improvement, and OTE / Cosmote is no exception. Here are three things they can do to stay competitive in their market:
With well over 500 own Cosmote stores, plus the Germanos exclusivity, OTE Group has a retail universe almost four times larger than their closest competitor.
Taking a more thorough approach to population-based geographic planning and reviewing store data, I’d predict that OTE can cut costs (without impacting growth) by 10% to 20% simply by trimming their estate.
With over a 40% share in wireless, OTE cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They must have a profitable and responsive chain of retail stores to compete with.
While my experience with OTE may or may not be the norm, it still exists and happens. They need to consider removing or re-purposing their static cashiers. This function fragments the customer journey, provides extra paperwork, and wastes time. In today’s market, it just isn’t necessary.
Some of OTE’s competitors are completing transactions without a split cashier, proving it is possible and it does fit the market to remove this function from their stores.
Now, considering the global pandemic we all live in, I get why telcos are diminishing their product show and tells. However, they shouldn’t become too comfortable with excluding this component of their retail experience. The marketing in OTE’s store is also outdated, with “Special Offer!” style posters and poorly designed displays.
With such a huge and diverse product portfolio, OTE can afford to showcase their best devices. They could link those devices to TV units, cross-sell with gaming, and create the experiential experiences customer expect. They do this to a certain (better) extent in the more modern Germanos stores – so why not in Cosmote stores?
From my research, Vodafone Greece sits in third place in the market.
Vodafone Greece has followed the standard Vodafone global store design. They have the highest quality stores in the market by far. Their displays are interesting and the “Top 10” table is stunning with live devices. This feature enhances the experience for customers looking to test devices.
With approximately 220 stores, Vodafone’s estate seems to be of right-size. Most of the stores I visited were busy with compliant queues outside.
Vodafone is also the only operator (to my knowledge) leveraging kiosks. However, the machines are at the back of the store and are still of the original 2009/2010 design – very bulky. Is it time for a refresh?
Based on my experiences, here are the things Vodafone can do to maintain a competitive advantage in their market:
Kiosks have the ability to enhance a store and provide a digital experience for customers with simple service journeys like bill payments. Kiosks should always be placed at the front of the store for a quick in-and-out journey.
Vodafone is on the right track by having the kiosks, but they need to make them more easily accessible.
The amount of product in the store is very high. And while this makes for an interesting browsing experience, especially with items like accessories, the number of device stock-keeping units is high.
Vodafone should invest in the right devices, ensure supply chain availability, and better their omnichannel capabilities to allow customers to perform journeys like click-and-collect or TISBO. Then, Vodafone can rely on their global buying power to get exclusive models and the right stock in place to increase profitability.
During my visit to Vodafone, I was approached by a staff member, but after clearly explaining my needs, I was presented with only one option.
Now, I do realise that a tourist seeking a 4G MiFi device to augment the poor fixed-line internet speed in their apartment is not exactly core business, but it’s not niche either, and the effort exhibited by the salesperson to solve my issues was disappointing.
The result? I ended up visiting Cosmote and purchasing the device there.
And I am a loyal Vodafone customer! I spent 8 years working for them and I am a customer back in the U.K., but this salesperson blew it. If there is something I will not tolerate from a telco, it’s poor service.
Vodafone Greece needs to revisit their sales training and ensure all their salespeople are providing experiences that gain and keep customer loyalty.
WIND Hellas is a powerful quad-play telco. They are well-positioned to be the market leader in Greece but have some work to do first.
Their stores are open and modern and have a “Home” section pushing their quad-play ambitions with connected home devices, ipTV, and fixed-line services.
However, the in-store experience is poor with a clunky design that tries but fails to put digital at the heart with surface-style touchscreens that are poorly executed – not a worthy technological investment - and nobody uses it!
The rest of the store has split transaction counters in groups of two, making private discussions difficult and social distancing impossible.
This being said, I did encounter some wonderfully switched on store staff. WIND Hellas was the only operator that let me leave with a “deal sheet” that summarized their recommendations, enabling me to call back quickly without having to explain my issues repeatedly. I was also given a card with the advisor’s number so I could call ahead and check if the item I wanted was available. I was impressed!
To move up and take over the market, here are three things WIND Hellas should consider doing:
The central counter that houses the slow surface-style touchscreen and the two fixed points of sales stations have got to go.
WIND Hellas also faces the same marketing challenges as the other operators, with poor advertising. The store design somehow makes the products secondary, which is not good for any retailer.
By implementing touchscreens in a manner that enhances experiences in conjunction with improved spaces for their offerings, WIND Hellas can create an experiential customer experience.
If your store can’t attract customers, it’s costing you on many levels. WIND Hellas needs to allow the power of the product to shine and introduce a vibrant space.
During my visit to WIND Hellas, I noticed quite a bit of bill payment traffic.
This is so unforgivable in 2020. There are an infinite number of ways for telcos to digitally collect bill payments - kiosks and self-care apps exist to be used!
The consumer telco market in Greece has little differentiation. All operators have too many stores that are heavily product-led. I fear for their profitability.
These telcos need to implement a more diversified, digitised channel strategy. In other parts of the world, CSPs are becoming DSPs, and the Greek market has a lot of catching up to do. There is too much paper, over-bloated retail channels, and unnecessary costs.
By introducing a suite of digital services, Greek telcos can promote growth and provide customers with flexible experiences.
The first telco to make a move here will have a huge advantage in the market. The operator who manages to cut costs, bring 5G to Greece, and take on the role as a digital provider, will win.
If you’re interested in chatting about the telco market in Greece, or any of the subjects I touch on in this blog, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a direct message. I’d love to discuss and get your thoughts!