Mobile phone stores across Europe face changing customer expectations so are looking for inventive ways to drive traffic and conversions in the brick and mortar space.
Prospects are good for sales of mobile phones in Europe in the coming years, according to industry estimates. Revenue in the European mobile phones sector was worth a massive €74.1 billion in 2018, Statista figures show, and the market is expected to grow annually by 1.7% between 2018 and 2021, as more and more Europeans invest in the latest smartphone technology. Revenue generated per person was estimated to be €141 in 2018, so this is a high-spend category in European retail, which typically locks customers into ongoing relationships with their phone retailer.
For store groups the big challenge is attracting initial footfall, and converting to secure these lucrative long-term connections with customers. And it’s a crowded market as everyone knows.
Why stores trump online for many mobile phone buyers
While many Europeans may opt to research and buy their phone online, the huge advantage stores have is their ability to offer customer service, and much-needed help to shoppers confused by the complexity of the phones and contracts on offer.
Certainly older consumers enjoy tapping into the tech know-how of sales assistants in stores operated by the likes of O2, SFR, Vodafone, EE and Carphone Warehouse. These brands have perfected the art of offering booked appointments or indeed walk-in opportunities to sit down with a smart phone expert. By taking time to learn about setting up and using the latest phone hardware, apps, phone cameras and cloud storage these consumers are fully engaging with their chosen retailer, and this can really bolster loyalty and repeat visits.
Traffic counting is helping mobile phone retailers track shopper behaviour, and with traffic data analytics, there are huge opportunities to build on store successes and improve the performance of individual stores.
All ages can benefit from in-store know-how
New interactive store concepts in the European phone sector are attracting not just mature audiences, but millennials and Gen Z consumers too. Apple stores from Paris to Düsseldorf are a magnet for tech-obsessed audiences of all ages, with the ‘Genius Bar’ concept now totally embedded in Apple’s retail culture. It’s setting the customer engagement bar high for the sector as a whole.
In recent years we’ve seen phone network provider and retailer O2 launch new retail spaces — for instance in the UK — which aim to move away from the traditional phone shop and towards more interactive experiences, tutoring and community involvement.
O2’s Manchester store boasts three times the floor space of an average O2 store, with relaxation areas and hubs to try out new technology. The vibe of the interior design is described by O2’s store concept ‘relaxed, agile and social’, breaking away from what a traditional mobile phone shop looks like. Increasing dwell time is the primary objective, with better conversion rates, and lasting loyalty the broader commercial goals.
Inspiration on offer alongside products
O2 encourages shoppers to stay longer with interactive ‘inspire zones’, which allow them to try out technology such as virtual reality and connected home devices alongside typical mobile phones, and a lounge area offers hot drinks and wireless mobile charging.
Events are also part of O2’s strategy to build more holistic relationships with customers. So stores in its European network hold technology tutorials, which will cover practical and more broad-ranging topics, such as how to keep children safe online, or how to use technology to improve fitness.
Experiential zones and repair hubs
Other European telecom groups are innovating in their brick and mortar retail space in similar ways, offering add-on services and product categories to give customers more incentives to visit, to stay longer, and to convert. In November 2018, SFR announced that 18 of its retail stores in France will use virtual reality to showcase its latest TV content on channels such as RMC Sport and Discovery. Also of note is mobile phone operator and retailer Vodafone’s new technology-driven flagship store in Oxford Street, London.
In this three-storey flagship, customers can find everything from experiential zones and hospitality to work spaces for business customers and ‘click and collect’ zones. There is also an Internet of Things (IoT) connected living space area, and a repair hub with in-store tech experts on hand.
Track performance and benchmark according to store type
So how can traffic data analytics help mobile phone stores as they evolve to meet shopper needs and fend off online competition? Vitally, traffic data will reveal which innovations are proving successful and leading to higher traffic, higher conversions and higher transaction values. It’s possible to segment store groups, so that head office can discover what works best in which types of stores. For instance, investment in added services such as tutorials may be deemed worthwhile in city stores where a specific traffic level is met, but not in smaller provincial stores.
Stores which have high traffic but low conversion rates can be ring-fenced with additional marketing and staff resourcing planned into a conversion improvement campaign.
Optimise labour in stores to capitalise on longer dwell times
Another big win with traffic analytics in this retail sector is labour optimisation. Where face-to-face customer service, in-store events and human interaction are clearly vital for long-term success, having knowledge of when the traffic trading peaks and troughs are coming is invaluable in staff scheduling.
Store managers have the benefit of knowing when the power hours will be — when stores are busiest — and can be sure to put their best-performing, or most knowledgeable team members on the rota at these time. Equally they can plan essential staff training during the footfall lulls and be sure that peak trading opportunities are never missed.
Scheduling in line with traffic trends also allows store teams to make the most of known peaks in the annual retail calendar. Of course Q4 sales are the highest, and this is when extra sales assistants need to be trained and scheduled to assist busy shoppers through their buying journey.
Measure and build on marketing successes
Marketing spend is famously lavish in the mobile phone industry, and traffic analytics can measure how well campaigns are performing in terms of attracting shoppers through the door. If window displays and signage are promoting a new product, service or special price promotion, what kind of walk-in traffic uplift is achieved? How does this differ by location type? Once the traffic is achieved how many of those shoppers actually convert?
The pressure is on for mobile phone retailers to deliver refreshingly different interactive experiences, and customer service excellence in their stores. But as well as executing this competently in the brick and mortar space, they urgently need to understand what impact innovations and investments are having on the commercial performance of those outlets.
ShopperTrak can help retailers in this position, by providing expert advice on how to turn traffic data into practical insights, using our analytics tool. With a long track record of assisting specialist retailers in spotting consumer behaviour trends, and building conversion opportunities based on traffic data revelations, we’re ready to support mobile phone retailers as they face an increasinly competitive future.
Schedule a demo, and find out more about how traffic analytics can boost mobile phone store performance.