Sprint announced a new program today, called "Direct 2 You," which brings the mobile phone store to your home or office, allowing you to upgrade your device when eligible and activate a new device on the spot.
"With Sprint Direct 2 You, a Sprint-trained expert will bring a Sprint mobile device to a customer's location, set it up and transfer all of their content, including contacts, pictures, videos and apps, from their old device to a new one," the company said in a release. "The experience also includes the Sprint expert performing a tutorial and offering tips to help the customer become familiar with using the new mobile device."
Sprint developed this 'revolutionary' service based on customer research and insights.
This service, of course, is not for everybody. I would not use this service but I don’t think I am the target market. I know what I want in a device and go into the store on a mission for that device and leave. I may even just order the device online.
I do think there is a market for people who find it hard to get out and spend an hour or so shopping for a new smartphone. Consider an older retired person, someone with mobility limitations, someone less tech-savvy, someone in a hurry or perhaps a stay-at-home parent with multiple children. It may be far easier to book at-home service than to go out and spend 45 minutes at a store. Even consider a corporate environment. Perhaps you are an executive at a company and want a new phone. It may be easier to just have the phone come to you and your phone number swapped to your new phone at your desk at work rather than needing to go down to the store. I already know of companies who do phone screen repair on-site. Why not phone sales?
Sprint says it plans to roll out 5,000 Direct 2 You branded cars to several metropolitan areas by the end of 2015, beginning in Kansas City today, followed by Chicago and Miami on April 20. Sprint developed this service "based on customer research and insights that clearly indicated the need for a revolutionary service like this one." I could see this as a move towards hiring individual contractors to carry out this task. Similar models have been used for other services.
Direct 2 You serves a niche market Sprint hopes will help it capture exposed market share from competitors.
As for what sales reps keep in the black briefcase, I think it's mostly based on popular phone models and partly based on of what the customer currently uses or requests. Phones nowadays are fairly small so it is quite possible to carry a good assortment in a small space. I do think this is a limitation for supporting this model, though. The high value of the product would also be a concern for people driving around in a Sprint branded car. This kind of advertises the value that may be inside.
From a commissioning standpoint, Sprint would typically pay a commission for phone sales to an independent retailer. If Sprint hires its own employee or contractor and even supplies them with a car, it could just transfer that potential commission to this person. As far as Sprint is concerned, I am not sure that selling in this way costs the company any more than selling through a store. This just serves another niche market which hopefully will help it capture exposed market share from other providers.