Salesforce com: Telecom retail trends show demand for self-service is skyrocketing – here are 3 ways to keep up


How do consumers buy smartphones? Current trends in telecommunications retail show that most of them do this from home. [AS Photo Project / Adobestock]

Gone are the days when consumers preferred to visit retail locations to research, upgrade, or buy their smartphones. Research has shown that only 25% of consumers visit the storefront of a CSP for product research. And only 31% of shoppers make a personal purchase. Telecom retail trends data shows digital channels skyrocket as subscribers put their entire customer journey online.

It’s clear that customers are looking for alternative ways to interact with wireless carriers, including web, phone, app, and social media. But how well do carriers deliver? Here are three ideas for CSPs to reshape the retail experience – and ensure they can continue to meet changing customer expectations.

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Telecommunications retail trends are developing rapidly

For decades, the stationary telecommunications market played an important role in telecommunications retail. More than just point of sale, these stores acted as customer support hubs, providing technical assistance and advice to buyers on products and billing plans.

There is now much less foot traffic to the shops. And there are fewer opportunities for customer loyalty. During the pandemic, many cellular operators, including T-Mobile, moved quickly to help employees, customers, and communities. But that also meant closing many stores temporarily or permanently.

These closings affected how people bought. According to an international study from 2021, only 39% of consumers prefer to buy in stores. Customers are taking advantage of more self-service options while reducing physical interactions, including buy-online pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), contactless delivery, and roadside collection.

As a result, many telecommunications providers are now designating more stores for pick-up and inventory-only purposes (“dark stores”) and running those stores with the most popular products in a particular region.

With freight forwarders’ stores reopening across the country, retail stores need to consider what customers want in order to minimize their time in store. Buyers want to see products in person before making a purchase. However, CSPs need to keep in mind that many consumers want to start their shopping journey online and then make the final in-store purchase – or vice versa.

How to provide a seamless telecommunications retail experience

Winning in this telecommunications retail environment means CSPs need to evolve the customer experience so that shoppers can seamlessly switch between digital and physical channels. Here are three suggestions:

1. Turn the control dial to digital

With fewer in-store interactions, CSPs need to ensure they can deliver great customer service through the digital channels that customers prefer. Consumers use an average of nine channels to browse inventory, get advice, and make purchases (only 47% prefer to shop on CSP websites). They expect consistency across all channels they use. This requires CSPs to improve shopping by optimizing travel.

  • Provide features that keep products in the cart when they leave the site before purchasing.

  • Use existing customer data to deliver personalized offers based on purchase and browsing history and preferences.

  • Address common concerns with a regularly updated FAQ page.

  • Embed a web chatbot for additional on-demand support.

2. Offer to book an appointment in the store

When customers visit a real store it has a purpose – to replace a broken phone screen, for example – and they want to go in and out without delay. Make it easy for them with an efficient online appointment booking system to minimize their time in business or in line.

3. Training and empowerment of retail store staff

Equip store reps with the right tools to guide a customer from discovery to purchase. State-of-the-art order management and inventory systems give employees a real-time overview of the inventory and facilitate the transport of products between the branches. Employees also get instant visibility into customer preferences, devices, usage, and interaction history to personalize recommendations. Help your team suggest additional purchases, such as phone accessories, that a customer would see at the checkout in a physical store.

Telecommunications companies, like all retailers, are experiencing rapid changes in consumer buying habits and preferences – and those changes will continue. To stay relevant and competitive, CSPs need to be customer focused and digital first.

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