Reimagining Telecom Retail:

How Interconnected Commerce Drives Operational Performance and Elevates the Customer Experience

The telecom industry has evolved significantly over the past 20 years, but the telecom retail experience has not. 

In the early days of Y2K, telecom was ripe with opportunity: there was an explosion in store openings and carriers, authorized retailers, and device manufacturers could easily acquire new subscribers. But the ecosystem has grown more crowded and complex. E-commerce has opened the door to a whole new category of competitors, including carriers who are selling directly to customers. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which means they demand seamless and elevated omnichannel services. 

More than two-thirds (68.11%) of telecom retailers agree that the marketplace has grown more competitive, especially over the last three years, according to iQmetrix research. But overall, all players have struggled to develop business strategies and customer experiences that allow them to differentiate, grow, and drive brand loyalty. 

The theme ultimately is, if you don’t embrace shifting expectations in the customer experience, you’re going to get pushed out — either by the carrier or your consumer,” said Trish Sale, Vice President of Product at iQmetrix. Subscribers have so much choice and the bundles have gotten so good among these carriers that the competition is intense. Companies have to focus on their operations — it must be picture perfect — so if you’re not creating a great experience in your store, offering the right online experience, and engaging your staff, you’re not going to last.”

All players have their own distinct challenges preventing them from creating the exceptional experience customers now demand: 

Carriers have invested in building out their omnichannel ecosystems to include sophisticated mobile apps and fulfillment services, such as buy online, pick up in-store. However, they have not effectively invested in the human element” of the customer experience, which hinges on empowering associates with tools and data that help them effectively serve customers.

Authorized and national retailers have struggled to differentiate their brand experiences, largely because they are forced to apply the requirements of carriers and OEMs. Additionally, they typically don’t have the business size or scale to optimize operations and empower in-store associates to meet consumers’ heightened expectations.

Finally, while OEMs tend to have the clout and credibility that come with their trusted (and often beloved) devices, they are beholden to carriers in the later stages of the customer journey, especially the activation process, which is a known pain point in the telecom retail experience.

Most telecom companies haven’t rethought their retail experiences in a long time,” noted Jason Ellis, Founder and Managing Partner at 3Park, an advisory firm that supports retailers in telecom and other categories. Anytime you’re talking about subscriber activation, the number of units sold, and margin, those are all important to the economics of the business. But if you don’t understand the customer journey, and you’re not holding yourself accountable for making that investment, then the customer sees that. As the market matures, it becomes more difficult to have a longer vision for retail and how it should interact with other omnichannel touchpoints.” 

Ellis made one point clear: There hasn’t been a player that has said, let’s completely rethink the way the customer is experiencing our retail stores. Let’s do it differently.’” 

Now is the time for the telecom industry to do things differently. With Interconnected Commerce, it’s possible. 

Our new e-book, created in collaboration with media outlet Retail Touchpoints, outlines how Interconnected Commerce can help telecom players reimagine the customer experience and embrace systems that create visibility, alignment, and superior operations across all channels.

Download our PDF e-book now!