Survey: Telecom Retailers Reveal Cautious Optimism and Business Resilience

Retail of all kinds is faced with ever-changing consumer behaviors — and telecom retail has a host of added complexities, making this industry even tougher for players to get ahead. 

Hit with a global pandemic, the threat of recession, labor shortages, evolving customer demands, increasing competition from all angles, and mind-boggling new technologies, wireless retail operators continue to demonstrate innovation and fortitude. 

iQmetrix recently carried out the second of our bi-annual surveys of industry professionals across the US and Canada to get some insights and predictions on wireless retail trends. Respondents came from top-tier telecom carriers, well-known wireless brands, authorized retailers of all sizes, wireless store-within-a-store operators, cable/​internet companies moving into wireless, handset manufacturers, and more. 

The resulting whitepaper—The Future is Interconnected Commerce: 2023 Trends in Telecom Retail—reveals that wireless retail operators remain optimistic about business outlooks, albeit with a little more caution than two years earlier. The respondents’ answers demonstrated their adaptability to meet customers where they are and rise to their new expectations, which is essential if retailers are going to win today’s race for customer loyalty. And the results proved that only by interconnecting the many disparate systems and players involved in telecom retail will businesses be able to thrive.

The survey report breaks the results down into six sections, including business outlook, challenges ahead, device activations, the role of the physical store, unified commerce strategies, and the sector’s future state.

Some key findings on business outlook were:

  • Nearly 59% of respondents predicted growth in device sales over the next three years
  • Almost 79% said smart home device sales will increase over the next three years
  • Over 68% said competition today is higher than three years ago
  • Over 59% cited continued economic uncertainty as their biggest challenge
  • Nearly 86% see the business opportunity in eSIM, although a third of those also see a threat
  • Nearly 46% have noticed a decline in smartphone demand over the past three years

When it comes to new technologies:

  • Close to 66% of respondents have implemented contactless payments, with most of those having kept them post-pandemic
  • More than 63% think it’s likely AI analytics of customer behavior will increasingly shape retail strategies
  • Over 76% predict a greater focus on customer loyalty and rewards programs

Stacy Hamer, Chief Operating Officer at iQmetrix, said, Even though there’s some nervousness and caution in some of these responses, what I love about the businesses in this industry is how resilient they are. No matter what problem gets thrown into this industry, they will transform and find new ways to engage with their customers to win that loyalty race. And we will be there, giving them the support and technology they need to do that. It makes me so proud to be a part of this evolution.”

Trish Sale, Vice President of Product at iQmetrix, added, Ultimately, it is about the ability to pull together all those carrier and retailer systems seamlessly so that you can have a frictionless experience, you can transact within wireless, you can get that activation to happen without having to swivel between systems — without having that disjointed and disconnected experience. And you can only do that with Interconnected Commerce.”

View survey results highlights and download the full report via the link below.