John Lewis’ move to stock 3 prepay handsets and
broadband may be a sign that the retailer is finally realising the potential of
the mobile market.
Commentators have long been waiting for John Lewis,
which has a reasonable retail estate of 29 stores, to make a major move into
mobile. Before the 3 deal, it only stocked a limited number of T-Mobile and Vodafone prepay products.
Such a move sees it going head to head with
electronics retailers such as Currys – which has a growing number of Phones 4u
concessions – as well as brands such as Argos,
Asda and Tesco.
If John Lewis extends its mobile offering to its
Waitrose, or sets up a concession deal there, it will really become a force to
be reckoned with in the supermarket space.
High-end stores have never really found a niche in the
mobile market. Selfridges has stocked smartphones, as well as Motorola’s £2,000
plus Aura device, but has not so far become particularly competitive.
But John Lewis has an impeccable reputation in the
electronics space, and is thought of as a provider of good quality, and more
importantly, good service.
With the ever increasing emergence of smartphones, it
already has a niche it could move towards.
However, that would involve moving into contracts, and
away from just prepay. It might also involve employing more staff.
John Lewis has the opportunity to shine in the mobile
space. The question is whether it is ready to embrace the market and really put
some effort in this time.