The State of the Telecom Retail Industry

(And Where it’s Going)

We all know retail is complicated. Ever-increasing customer expectations are shaping the business of retail, and ever-changing technology can be difficult to stay ahead of. But telecom retail is especially complicated.

Telecom always goes through rapid changes, but this year, the rate of change has been truly incredible — even unprecedented. The acceleration of 5G and continued industry competition have likely been a catalyst for some of the changes, especially in the blurring of lines between wireless and wireline players in the telecom retail space.

But there’s a lot more at play than that. As the market begins to converge, non-traditional providers are poised to Uberize” telecom retail by disrupting existing models and threatening today’s biggest brands. Consumers, who already have high expectations of convenience and seamless service, will come to expect the ability to buy a phone and activate it anywhere — the grocery store, their own home, the street, a pop-up store. Telecom retail, and the customer experience it offers, is now being held up against all other segments of retail — particularly those in the tech space. If telecom retailers fail to keep up with the level of service being offered by such forward-thinking brands as Apple or Tesla, they risk falling behind and being overtaken by those who will.