MoCo has been in the mobile business for 24 years. It has adapted to changes in the industry by dropping its retail arm and now focusing on b2b services. It was once heavily skewed on Orange, but is now an O2 Advance Partner, a Vodafone direct dealer and it also connects 3.
What is MoCo’s history?
MoCo is one of the oldest mobile companies around. It was started in February 1985 by two brothers who had been in the car industry and migrated into the mobile world. They then started working with Cellnet as a territory operator, before going into retail until 2000, and the business is now focused on b2b.
What is your story?
I have been with the company for 11 and a half years. I started as finance director and when we sold the shops in 2000, I became MD. I joined in 1998 to expand the business, and managed the disposal of the retail arm.
How has the industry changed since you first joined?
We went from the infant years of the industry, where there were no consumers, to the ‘land grab’ stage of the late 80s and 90s, which could be described as the ‘good old days’. In 2006, we realised it was reaching full capacity. It became a much more competitive industry and we started having to be more efficient and customer focused.
What makes you different from other distributors?
Our dealer partners have been with us for a long time and get a fairly bespoke service. They like a straightforward, honest and transparent partner and we don’t ask them to do something that we don’t do ourselves. The direct sales force goes through the same pain as them. We are a bit more empathetic and understanding, and try to share best practice. We need to be a point of call and a point of knowledge, and must equip them to deal with challenges. Some smaller dealers might ask for our involvement in complicated negotiations.
What’s your take on convergence?
As well as mobile, we have fixed-line partners that we want to help get into mobile sales by constructing tenders.
Mobile broadband and data are a fairly niche sale. It is a no-brainer for people who use laptops extensively, and people are opting for prepay mobile broadband. We do the bespoke O2 bundle as there is demand for that.
How did the O2 ‘Approved’ partner scheme launch go?
The dealer partners liked what they heard as well as the developments, including upgrading the web portal. They are keen to sell the iPhone and 10 committed to giving 80% of their new connections to O2. The benefits that are exclusive to the programme may not be right for every dealership, but we can have up to 12 dealers signed up.
Who do you connect and is it difficult managing competing interests?
We connect O2 and 3, and are a direct dealer with Vodafone. It has always been slightly difficult. We take the view that in distribution, it is difficult to sell all the networks – it is much better to be a master
of a couple.
3 on the consumer side has some of the strongest tariffs, but it tends to push offers through independent partners, which is good for us.
It has been talking to us and is quite focused on the SME market – three to five handsets is its target sale because it doesn’t have the infrastructure for larger handset deals.
How will things change over the next 12 months?
We are starting to see businesses, like Vodafone and O2, moving to total communications companies.
O2 is launching the one number concept, which could be the beginnings of it moving into the combined offering.
Providing new customers with one invoice will obviously have teething problems, but 12 months down the line we will be closer. It is nirvana for all carriers to grab a larger share of the customer’s wallet.
What are the challenges for dealers?
Dealers are in the process of diversifying if they haven’t already. I think they also have to adjust to changes in the industry, including upfront commission and revenue share. Once it is better established and they have invested, it will grow into a different sort of model.
They are also competing with a global recession, if they invest and develop a broad range of products, there will always be opportunities.
Are you looking to expand?
We are looking at expanding our investments to attract more partners. We’re striving to grow every day and add value to the business and to propositions.