Telecom operators are in an enviable position. Through their services, they enable some of the most interesting gadgets and tech on the planet. Going into a Telco store should be like wandering into Aladdin’s Cave…but is it?
A Whole New World
As the digital revolution usurps the industrial revolution in terms of global disruption, the typical consumer is moving past the mobile phone. In-home WIFI has evolved into a world where your car, house, and fridge are connected to you. We now live in the age of home assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Bixby. Our world is changing like never before, and Telco’s are lucky to be at the heart of that change.
Some products are an easy sell. A new xPhone from yManufacturer with zNewFeature can easily be translated, and your decision-making process as a consumer is quite straight forward. When this process is easy, buying something digitally also makes sense – it’s immediate and quick when you know what you want. As a result, online purchases surge, and the claims that “Retail is dead” proliferate.
However, not all products are easy to sell online. Home automation, for example, is very hard to sell digitally as many people are simply too new to the category. Many ISPs are entering this world, with varying results. Retail is VITAL in this world of the uncertain.
I argue that retail is a mystery to the average CxO. I’d go so far to say that to some in Telco, retail is an anathema; they are petrified by the high cost of brick of mortar, the perpetual rebranding, and the cost of labour. Most Telco’s under-invest as a result, and I can always track a telco’s performance trajectory by how well they are executing in retail. I don’t need to see their annual results, I can see it in the stores.
One of the other issues facing the industry is the demise of the mobile device. And by that, I mean the demise of “innovation” in the mobile device. Along with an uptick in build standards, most devices now have a 4-6″ screen encased in carbon fibre/plastic/glass that operate in VERY similar ways. This means that customers upgrade less, and the resulting profit tick that comes with changing your device is not felt by the Telco.
Today, stores are less profitable, less engaging and we have this innovation lull. Yet the real spike is around the corner…5G requires multiple modems, cars will need a package from the Telco, and almost every object you can think of can and will be “smart”. Toaster? Fridge? Oh yes!
Invest in Possibility
The Telco’s that invest in an engaging store, full of products and potential, are the ones that will win. Thriving stores will be ones you can buy from while being entertained and educated. They will know how to manage inventory, can rely on a supple supply chain, and deliver amazing data about who their customers are and why and when they choose to visit. Those stores will reap the rewards.
In short, retail has a HUGE future in Telco…the shame is most CxO’s cannot see it yet. If you’re ready to open yourself to the future, drop us a line – the future is already here