The retail landscape is constantly changing, as is the connected device and telecommunications industry.
October 16, 2022Ed. Note: This article was previously published on Retail Touch Points.
As national big-brand retailers adapt to post-pandemic shifts in shopper behavior, many are adopting new strategies, such as deploying RFID and IoT technologies, and exploring product lines and vertical markets. extra to increase their profits. The pandemic has led to a surge in e-commerce, but there are signs of life waking up in the physical experience, and brick-and-mortar stores are looking to regain market share. Above all, retail brands have learned that customer experience matters and shoppers are demanding new levels of convenience.
Retailers offering one-stop shopping with omnichannel options will inevitably capture more engagement. At the same time, consumer demand for new connected devices, such as cell phones and tablets, smart systems, and connected wearables and hearing aids, has never been higher. This convergence has led many big box retailers, large grocery stores, and other well-known retailers – think Walmart, Costco, Staples, Loblaws, etc. – to adopt the same strategy: set up points of sale and wireless kiosks in their main stores.
But how can these retailers learn to operate a profitable wireless store in-store when they may have little or no experience in this highly complex retail industry? Understanding potential pain points and areas where even an experienced retailer will need specialist knowledge is key to overcoming these pitfalls.
Integration of processes, technology and data
It’s not as simple as using the usual main store POS and retail management system for the wireless store in a store. Telecom retail requires highly specialized systems and technology for transaction processing, inventory management, price setup, carrier relationship management, commission reconciliation, rebate tracking, data and specialized analyses, and much more. All of this information then needs to be integrated and tracked in the backend retail management system to give the retailer a holistic view.
To use an independent retailer or not?
An important early decision is whether the primary retailer will operate the in-store wireless kiosks themselves or whether to engage the services of an independent wireless kiosk operator. Both have pros and cons, largely based on convenience and ease of use versus brand control and retail experience. But whatever the decision, it is essential that the primary retailer has the contract for the technology implemented in the wireless kiosk. An independent operator may have its own contractual obligations and not be able to meet the business needs of the main retailer.
Work with multiple telecom operators
Even for an ordinary mobile phone store, the integration with the operator can be very complex and difficult. For a store within a store, these challenges are amplified by offering a wide range of pricing plans, which means working with multiple carriers. Additionally, even on a single device and price plan sale, the retailer can track up to five different types of subsidies, depending on the promotions at that time.
Another complexity is the various upsells that could be added, such as insurance coverage. The retailer will need an RMS that can access up-to-date rate plans from all carriers and automatically reconcile commission reports to ensure they don’t leave money on the table, as well as manage subsidies and the extremely complex discounts involved in selling devices and discounted tariff plans from various operators. The system will also need to provide seamless integration into multiple carrier systems if the retailer wants to provide a seamless activation experience for its customers.
Separate inventory management
High value products such as smartphones and tablets should be managed with care, especially in a wireless kiosk environment where storage space may be limited and inventory will need to be stored next to store products major. The retailer’s wireless retail management system will need to provide intelligent inventory management solutions so that inventory management at wireless kiosks can be separated from main store inventory.
Manage store staff in a store
As with retail and inventory management systems, it is not recommended for the retailer to merge employee management systems between the main store and wireless operations. If the kiosk is run independently, that’s fine, but for master retailers who run their own store within a store, it’s important to keep this system separate. That said, your wireless employee management system will need to integrate with your main retail employee systems and enable third-party authentication to streamline employee logins.
Solve new consumption behaviors
Customers have new expectations and expect an enhanced experience that allows them to begin and end their buying journey in any retail channel of their choice, even when engaging in a kiosk type retail operation. The Master Retailer should ensure that the technology they implement for their wireless program has a full suite of omnichannel retail solutions, such as e-commerce options, online shopping/booking and in-store pickup, curbside pickup, drop-shipping, queue management, and in-store appointment scheduling.
Additionally, new technologies in this space are creating digital experience platforms and seamless enablement solutions that are transforming both the customer and staff experience in the telecom retail vertical. Retailers need to create as seamless an experience for their wireless kiosk customers as they do for their primary in-store customers. Nothing less will be tolerated by today’s high expectations.
Keep up with changing trends and technology
The retail landscape is constantly changing, as is the connected device and telecommunications industry. Software evaluation and procurement can be a long and tedious process for any retailer, but it can be especially difficult for a big brand. By choosing a solution with a full integration platform from a specialized, forward-thinking technology partner, big-box retailers can future-proof their wireless retail strategy.
Stacy Hamer is the Senior Vice President of Revenue and Client Operations at iQmetrix, a leading North American provider of telecommunications retail management solutions. She has been with iQmetrix since 2002, handling everything from launch to account management and business consulting to customer feedback. She now leads iQmetrix’s revenue and customer operations teams, including enterprise sales, account management, project management, professional services and support. Hamer is known for its commitment to ensuring customers receive a great experience, achieve their goals, and benefit from the knowledge offered by iQmetrix’s customer-facing teams.