O2 is on track to deliver 200 revamped stores by the end of the year, with another 280 stores in line for a makeover.
The operator’s biggest ever retail revamp is already bearing fruit with footfall, conversion and sales rates soaring in the new stores, according to O2 head of retail Richard Baylis.
Speaking to Mobile, Baylis said: ‘We will have 200 newly revamped stores open by the end of the year out of a total of 480 stores in our estate. We are hoping to roll out this new look to as many stores as we can. It is a very different environment from our older stores and from stores in the rest of the mobile sector.’
The new stores include a new coffee shop-style area and a much higher level of interactive experiences, including live handsets across the range and 50-inch plasma TV screens installed for product demonstrations and promotional offers.
Each store takes two weeks to revamp under the programme, said Baylis. In that period, staff undergo an intensive training programme before the store manager personally signs the store off.
‘The training, plus the responsibility given to the store manager to sign off the store, give the staff a real degree of pride which is clearly paying off. We are seeing a combination of higher footfall, uplift in terms of conversion rates and a rise in total sales at our new stores.’
Baylis said the newly opened O2 concession at Sainsbury’s Crayford store is also performing well.
‘We were keen not to dilute the experience so like our other stores the concession has live handsets, lots of interaction and is staffed and managed from the local O2 store,’ he said.
Baylis confirmed that further trial concessions are being planned at other Sainsbury’s stores.
O2 is also recruiting new sales staff after calling off its job freeze in July. Baylis said the operator had recruited more than 300 new staff members since July.
O2 investigates bonus error
Baylis said he will listen to staff concerns about O2’s new retail bonus structure. The reassurance came after errors were made earlier this month in the payment of retail bonuses to staff, which resulted in some staff being either over paid or underpaid on Q3 bonuses.
An internal investigation has been launched. Some staff claim the error was due to the introduction of too many targets under the new bonus structure.
Baylis said: ‘We fortunately caught the error before bonuses were paid and have parked that. We always take feedback and I am not unhappy with the bonus scheme, but equally I am always happy to listen to staff’s concerns.’
O2’s retail overhaul
Major changes to O2’s retail programme have been introduced in the past 18 months, said Baylis.
‘We have streamlined the sales process, which allows our store managers in particular to concentrate less on filing and more on the shop floor, allowing them to spend more time with customers and more time coaching staff,’ he said.
Other changes include a customer satisfaction feedback programme, introduced 12 months ago, which Baylis said is proving popular with staff.
Customers are asked to respond to a feedback questionnaire, which is
then used to measure staff performance and calculate staff bonuses.
‘There is a really strong feedback from our customers of between 25% to 30% and the teams are really positive about it,’ said Baylis.
He said the feedback also enabled staff to continuously improve their customer skills.
O2 has also simplified its back office systems and its point of sale stocking process, cutting staff time spent putting up new posters and displays. The process was simplified by mapping every store’s point of sale and tailoring the promotional materials accordingly. The process has saved staff time and cut point of sale printing costs by 20%, Baylis said.
O2’s Guru team of tech experts has grown to 150 since its launch in late 2008. Baylis said the Guru programme has been a great success. Their brief is to help customers and staff understand and get the best out of the devices in store.
Baylis said the Gurus’ role was becoming increasingly important as O2 broadened its range of products beyond mobile phones.
‘We have tabs, mobile broadband, home broadband, increasing access to business, an evolving focus on accessories, network services and the hardware of network services, so they play an important role in enhancing customer experience,’ he said.