Retail has been around since the dawn of civilization. So why has it become a dirty word?
Something interesting is happening in the telco world. The word “retail” is starting to disappear from industry vernacular.
The reason? Bricks and mortar. Or more specifically, bricks and mortar’s decline.
Despite being the oldest retail model, retailers who have depended solely on their physical presence have struggled in the online age.
Is retail really dead?
No, it just needs a digital makeover.
Retail in the Online Age
We live in a connected, instantaneous world. Our devices have changed every aspect of how we live our lives. They place all the world’s information at our fingertips. They are our personal assistants. Our social life. And they’re changing how we shop.
In our connected world, we can buy pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want it– and have it shipped to our house the next day. Retailers that have failed to successfully incorporate e-commerce into their strategies are struggling. Those that have failed to adapt are going out of business, fuelling the assertion that retail is dead.
Telcos are currently in the same boat. Despite selling the most advanced technology in the world, customers still have to go to a physical store to buy their new device. It’s counterintuitive, and it’s just a matter of time before this approach stops working.
Fortunately, telcos are starting to realize just how important it is to extend their reach beyond bricks and mortar. The hottest topic in telco right now is digital transformation. It’s a broad term that has many implications, but for retail specifically, it’s about extending the ability to sell into retail channels beyond the physical store, so customers can be served in new ways.
For many, this requires an upgrade of the systems that make retail possible. In order to transact in any channel, telcos need connected systems that can communicate with each other effectively, no matter where the transaction takes place. The fact is, many telcos are burdened by legacy infrastructure. Between the point of sale, billing system, inventory and miscellaneous integrations, it’s not uncommon for a telco to use up to 30 different systems to process a simple sale. This setup negatively impacts the in-store experience. Transactions can take up to 3 times longer than they should, and customers are given a less than stellar experience.
If telcos are having trouble with transactions in their only channel, they have some work to do if they’re going to be able to successfully expand to new digital channels as well.
Telcos that have pursued their digital transformations are ready to embrace the new retail-model. It’s one we like to call Transact-Anywhere.
Transact-Anywhere is simple. It gives customers the ability to transact and interact with the telco at anytime, from anywhere. New channels will include:
- Online & Apps: Because the telco’s systems are now connected, customers can shop through the internet and apps. They will be able to see current inventory levels, device features, recommended add-ons, and more. If they already have a device, they will be able to view and modify their current plan and add-ons. If a purchase is made, the device and SIM are delivered to their home. A new offer is available? Now this ad can be sent directly to the customer’s device. These channels bring the complete telco store experience to the customer – but deliver it in the online world.
- Kiosks: For telcos that use kiosks, their kiosk staff will now have access to the same information and tools as the regular store, making “pop-up shops” highly effective. This will open up many opportunities for telcos; they will be able quickly set up presences in areas that may be underserved, or at time-limited events.
- Door-to-door: Field sales are also transformed. Typically, field sales agents are burdened by paper processes, and have no connection to real-time information. Because they have no inventory visibility, they are forced to sell a limited set of products that they carry with them. With the power of a traditional store in a small package, your field sales team can deliver the same efficient experience in any environment. This flexibility allows them to offer a full product set without having to carry inventory; they simply schedule home deliveries of products.
At the end of the day, Transact-Anywhere is about curating an experience that suits the customer, no matter where that happens.
The Store’s New Role
Post-digital transformation, customers will have many avenues for making purchases. So, will we still need physical stores?
Of course! Some customers will always prefer this method of shopping. But even your most progressive customers still want the ability to interact with the items they buy. Telcos need to create an in-store experience that’s as efficient as shopping online, with the added benefit of personal interaction.
Customers will no longer settle for the “standard” retail experience. They expect their visit to be fast and efficient. They want to be greeted when they enter, and to be served quickly without needing to wait – even better if they can schedule an appointment online beforehand! They appreciate when the store has specific areas for quick transactions, like bill payments, so they can get in and out quickly.
Customers want sales staff to be friendly, experienced and helpful. They should be able to help the customer find what they want quickly and explain how the product will improve their lives. And they want interactive product demonstrations – no dummy devices here!
Customers expect that contract signing and other forms are digitized. They appreciate that they save paper, and love receiving a digital copy of documents that they’ve signed. Digitizing the Walk Out Working process ensures the customer’s device is completely set up, and pertinent information is reviewed before they leave.
This is the experience that customers now expect. But, it’s only half the story.
To be successful in today’s world, physical stores can’t just be about shopping. They also need to be a place where people gather to be entertained.
Leading manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, have already capitalized on this idea. Their flagship stores are more about entertainment than device peddling. With virtual reality demonstrations, concerts, and interactive displays, these brands have created a place where people want to gather. Their stores are a place for brand-building – which leads to incredible loyalty.
These manufacturers are a real threat to carriers who aren’t providing the same level of interaction with their customers. However, telcos have a great opportunity if they jump on this model now.
Maplewave’s Agile Platform
Maplewave’s digital platform is the solution that telcos need. Every one of our solutions is focused on improving the customer experience.
All-Channels Capability: Our platform has been designed to work in all channels, including in-store, online, kiosks, door-to-door, and more.
Modular: Our platform is designed to be completely modular. Select only the capabilities you need to build a custom solution that suits your business:
• Customer Experience & Queue Management: Greet customers, place them into a queue, then use mobile sales tools to build orders from anywhere in the store for a personalized experience.
Give a personal experience >
• Point of Sale: Our comprehensive POS can be integrated into almost any system, reducing the need for duplicate entry, and the overall transaction time.
Make transactions effortless >
• Digital Contracts: Digitally sign, seal, store, verify and retrieve all customer transaction documents; can also be used to digitize walk out working procedures. Customers receive a copy of all digital documents by email and appreciate this environmentally-friendly solution.
Go paperless >
• Inventory Management: Comprehensive inventory controls track the lifecycle of all serialised inventory so that the right stock is always in the right place at the right time. Customers can be assured that the product they want is in stock.
Control your inventory >
• Business Intelligence & Reporting: Uses dashboards to present complex concepts and drive business decisions. Customers benefit because telcos have the tools to make better decisions.
Make better decisions >
Transact-Anywhere: Our connected solution makes Transact-Anywhere possible, so customers can be served on their own terms.
Improved Experience: Telcos can now give customers the same experience in all channels, which improves the overall experience. The in-store experience is also faster, and reps can spend more of their time interacting with customers, and less time processing transactions.
Personal Recommendations: Because the systems are connected throughout the customer journey, it’s now possible to collect data and use it to build a complete picture of the customer. Telcos can leverage this data to build personal offers and recommendations that resonate, resulting in increased sales.
Cost & Time Savings: Flexible architecture makes it easier and less expensive to deploy and integrate different systems. Efficient workflows mean customers are served more efficiently.
If you’re considering a digital transformation, but aren’t sure how or where to start, our Amplifier consulting team is ready to help.
We offer a number of retail-focused services:
Benchmark- Telco Retail Assessment: Specialized for retail, our proprietary 135-point deep-dive assessment evaluates your retail performance and benchmarks the results against regional and global standards. At the end, you will have a contextualized plan for how to bring your retail experience in line with global expectations – quickly.
Optimize – Comprehensive Telco Consultation (Retail Focus): A less in-depth version of our Benchmark Assessment, Optimize assesses your retail performance (or any telco area) without benchmarking your results against your competitors. Still comprehensive in nature, Optimize is an immersive process that examines your pain points and generates a report full of quick wins and long term projects, and any future threats.
Showtime Telco Training: Most telco salespeople have never received formal training; as a result, they fail to reach their full potential and deliver the best customer experience possible. Showtime is the only telco sales training course built for telco retail, by lifelong telco retailers. Designed for all telco retail staff, Showtime is an engaging training program that teaches participants the skills they need to become a top-performer.
Miscellaneous Services: Maplewave also offers a number of unbundled services that can be tailored to your needs, including store design, customer experience reviews, mystery shopping, and more.
VP, Marketing & Amplifier
Will is an award-winning consultant who offers insight and concrete solutions to retailers who are looking to take their business to the next level. His consulting experience spans over 20 years and 60 countries, and includes major retail projects for international blue-chip companies. In the past, he has worked for several multinational telco’s including Vodafone, Blackberry and Cable and Wireless.
Head of Retail Operations
Richard is an award-winning retail leader with over 20 years of telco experience. A Prince 2 and Agile Practitioner-qualified project manager, Richard specializes in large scale transformation projects that involve many elements, including store design, customer experience, project implementation and process improvement.
Retail Business Optimization Specialist
Kotie is a high-performing retail optimisation specialist who has over 20 years of experience in retail training, process improvement and telco call centres. Her wide-breadth of telco-specific experience makes her an incredible asset to Maplewave.
If you’d like to hear more about how Maplewave’s consulting team can facilitate your digital
transformation, we would love to talk about the possibilities.