12/8/2010 11:32:00 AM
Inside track: Everything Everywhere unveils first dual-branded store
As an industry first and modern experiment, Everything Everywhere’s plan for joint-branded stores has been the subject of much speculation. Would they be branded Everything Everywhere? Or would they use the ‘powered by’ branding implied by CEO Tom Alexander?
The answer appears to be none of the above, with six of the joint venture’s dual-branded stores now open in trial format.
The first of these stores, in Tooting, South London, was formerly a small T-Mobile shop. From the outside, an unassuming consumer wouldn’t notice much difference, aside from an Orange poster in the window of the T-Mobile branded store.
But moving further inside, the shop now contains an Orange concession selling products such as fixed broadband to ‘compliment’ T-Mobile’s current offering.
Here, Mobile met up with Everything Everywhere’s VP of retail, Andrew Coull, who says: ‘Our philosophy is about “smart choice” – how do you give more choice to customers?’
The T-Mobile store staff have already recevied vigorous training, which included going into Orange for a two-day course. ‘The heart of this is about the people,’ says Coull. ‘We will listen to the customer and understand what they want. We will ask, what are the benefits of Orange and T-Mobile?’
And things have got off to a flying start. Store staffer Fez tells Mobile that he had sold Orange fixed broadband to a customer within 14 seconds of the Tooting store opening. Coull adds: ‘We don’t sell fixed through T-Mobile, so it extends choice.
‘The range is about how we provide products on both Orange and T-Mobile – it’s about the benefits,’ says Coull.
He points to the two brands’ loyalty offerings as differentiators – T-Mobile’s Blockbuster Night In and Orange’s Orange Wednesdays, which is clearly promoted on the display.
Coull says: ‘It’s an Orange concession in a T-Mobile store and the ranging is based on the local customer – this is around the base in Tooting – it’s about how we can compliment that.’
The two brands don’t want to clash, he adds. Only 20% of the products on the Orange display are available in T-Mobile. Meanwhile, 80% of the products are completely different.
‘We also have own-brand Orange handsets such as the Android San Francisco,’ says Coull, adding: ‘Then there are exclusives such as the X10, which Orange has in white and T-Mobile has in black. It’s about what’s best for the customer and it’s complimentary.
‘We have the Orange gift box for Orange and M&S vouchers for T-Mobile,’ he adds. ‘These are a big focus for Christmas.’
Windows Phone 7 is also a big focus for Orange this Christmas, as the operator has a ‘special’ relationship with Microsoft that involves it in the software giant’s marketing.
‘We are in a very special place going into Christmas,’ says Coull. ‘It’s our first Christmas as Orange and T-Mobile.’
And this isn’t just a marketing message, Coull says. ‘For me, it’s about coverage. The customer will still be a T-Mobile or an Orange customer but will have the benefit of sharing the network.
‘It’s about our people and how we are going to help our customers. This is an exciting time – we are creating an awful lot of opportunities.’
‘Winning for the customer’
Meanwhile, commission is balanced around ‘winning for the customer’ and ‘grabbing hold of the customer and not losing them’, says Coull, adding: ‘It’s about have we done the right thing for the customer. It’s about capturing the customer for a lifetime.’
However, the operator will not be putting huge marketing behind dual-branded stores just yet. Coull says: ‘We are trying not to do a massive splash about this. The temptation is to do a great big splash, but we don’t want to overplay it if we are going to expand the retail estate.’
And Everything Everywhere is open to suggestions from its team. The area manager will come in and see what is and isn’t working, says Coull. There will also be weekly feedback on email or on the phone.
He adds: ‘We have a full-on team. We have area managers from both networks spending time in store.
‘This store is all about learning and it is a model that could apply to all T-Mobile and Orange stores as the operator expands the estate,’ Coull says.
And if successful, dual-branded stores could change the face of mobile retail.
Six dual-branded stores open
Everything Everywhere opened six dual-branded stores in November. All six take a concession within store format, with three T-Mobile stores showcasing Orange and three Orange stores showcasing T-Mobile products. The products will be tailored to the specific area.
Customers will be sold either T-Mobile or Orange, depending on their particular needs, through a ‘smart choice’ philosophy, Everything Everywhere retail chief Andrew Coull said.
The first store opened in Tooting on 24 November. It is understood that further joint-branded stores opened in Palmers Green and Bridgend on 25 November.
The final three stores in Hertford, Dorchester and Weston-super-Mare opened on 26 November. The locations of the stores were exclusively revealed by Mobile in October this year.
Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere is opening up three Orange franchises in time for Christmas following a successful trial in Bridlington run by Shebang. The new franchises in Letchworth, Caerphilly and Leeds will be run by local entrepreneurs, with more expected to open in 2011.