Bobbie Bhogal – the entrepreneur behind the e2save website – has re-surfaced in a new online venture aiming to combine assisted sales with web retailing.
The former Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse executive made his name through e2save, which he built into a £60m business before selling out to Sir Charles Dunstone.
Bhogal hopes to build a second empire based on a hybrid of web presence and call centre sales assistance. Customers will be able to book 15 minute appointments and have consultants walk them through a range of different devices and tariff options in a similar way to bricks and mortar stores.
He said: ‘There are so many websites out there that cheapen the concept of mobile phones. People don’t realise what they have and that’s highly sophisticated pieces of technology. Because of that, our model is that we want to present the handsets in a little bit more detail.’
The business will run on the www.mobilephones.com domain, and will launch in six months’ time.
Bhogal said the current model for selling mobiles can be ‘completely wrong’ for some consumers, with them being driven to buy specific handsets because of ‘peer pressure’.
He said: ‘They are about bringing a list of potential deals to the consumer. We want to take that one step further so someone can be talked through deals and understand the phone they actually need. We want to restore some sort of order to the way the market is.’
In the longer term, Bhogal said he wants to adapt the site for global audiences, with large amounts of traffic to the site being generated from the US and India. He said: ‘Our programmers are creating many sites to cater for global markets so when they come to the site they are getting pertinent information.’
He added that he was in talks with distributors, operators and device manufacturers about getting the plans in place to launch its own established retail offer.
Bhogal was the co-founder of the e2save.com website, which was bought by Carphone Warehouse in 2004. He has worked for both Carphone and Vodafone in retail and business development. He refused to provide profit and sales targets for its first year, saying the priority was to establish the site.
He said: ‘Our initial focus is not on sales. The most important thing is to set up the right structure. We need to get the call centre ready, get people trained and adapt the website and make it easy to use. If we can achieve that this year, then I will be happy.’
Author: Graeme Neill