Targeting business customers in store will increase margins, generate more business and help stores reach their targets, according to retail staff.
Store staff told Mobile that Carphone Warehouse’s latest bid to acquire more business customers by launching in-store business areas was a brave but worthwhile venture.
The retailer plans to offer business customers a wide range of phones, tablets, networks and tariffs in its high street stores.
A Carphone staffer told Mobile: ‘Being able to do business contracts in store will help us get more margins because we will be making money from the sales.
‘For us it is also a great opportunity to increase our business in store. I can imagine that the business market is huge, especially in London.’
Another Carphone staffer said: ‘The impartiality that we have as an independent retailer will help us succeed. The huge range of phones that we offer on all the major networks will also give us an edge over the competition.
‘Even though they are business customers, they will know that they can come in store and receive a first class service. It will also help us reach our targets, which is definitely a good thing.’
Staff from other retailers agreed that introducing dedicated areas in store for business customers would be another way of improving customer service and developing customer relationships.
A T-Mobile staffer said: ‘There is an online section for business customers on the T-Mobile website, but having something in store would be a worthwhile venture because customers would be able to come in store rather than call customer services. It is always easier to explain things face to face rather than over the phone.’
However, some staff said that a dedicated in-store business area was an unnecessary investment as there were already services in place specifically for business customers.
An Orange Staffer told Mobile: ‘We already do lots of business contracts in store and staff already get paid slightly extra for doing a business sale. Our business client also has a dedicated customer service that is UK-based.
‘I think we offer a pretty good package for business customers already and it has improved a great deal since our recent tariff refresh. The tariffs are now so competitive on what they offer that there is no need to invest in a dedicated in-store business section.’
Meanwhile, a Phones 4u staffer said: ‘We don’t have many business customers – they make up about the lowest percentage of our customers – so it wouldn’t be a worthwhile investment to have a dedicated business department.’
What do other retailers offer their customers?
The independent retailer does not offer business propositions in store or online as it concentrates solely on the consumer market. Phones 4u said it specifically targets the youth and value segments of the market as this is where its strength lies.
O2 SME customers have access to a number of offers on the network including Priority Tickets, Priority Moments and other business offers with brands like Avis, Parcelforce and Ramada.
O2‘s main focus is around business flexibility, which allows its customers to change their contracts with O2 as their business evolves.
Trained in-store T-Mobile staff can discuss the best business plans available to suit each company’s specific needs. They can also advise clients on free business extras and ensure a smooth transfer process.
T-Mobile business customers can get further information via the company’s business helpline, which is open seven days a week. T-Mobile is also the only network to offer UK business customers a free phone on a six-month plan.
Vodafone has dedicated business advisors in 150 of its 400 stores nationwide and a standalone business store at Cheapside in East London. This store is a key part of the company’s strategy to grow small business market share. Vodafone UK also has an online business centre.
Vodafone UK’s director of small business Tim Stone said: ‘Small businesses often shop in the way that a consumer does – we understand this and have developed, over the past few years, a team of 175 business specialists in our retail stores. Our aim is to serve our small business customers in the way they want to be served and our experience means we can provide them with a local and dedicated service.’
He added: ‘Carphone Warehouse is a long-standing partner of Vodafone UK and we are looking forward to this next phase.’
Orange has a dedicated UK-based business customer service line with a portfolio of services available to its business customers. Other resources available to business customers include in-store specialists (all retail agents are trained to sell business tariffs) and a dedicated business magazine in every store detailing all the operator’s business offers.
Three Business is focused on providing SMEs with data-led propositions, made possible by its recently upgraded network. Three Business concentrates on bringing in quality customers by using a combination of direct field-based teams, online sales and a select number of third party and affiliate partners.
Alongside generous voice and text allowances, Three’s all-you-can-eat data deals allow companies to make the most of working on the move by accessing emails, maps and apps.