Across the world, every industry has felt the effects of COVID-19 in some way, and telecommunications (telco) retailers are no exception. Maplewave, a digital solutions and consulting company headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has been helping telco retailers across the globe tackle the challenges presented by the global health pandemic.
“Demand for services has never been higher, but physical distancing and gathering limits have caused many telco stores to reduce service or temporarily close altogether,” says Adam Baggs, CEO at Maplewave. He explains that this is not a short-term challenge; the pandemic will wax and wane over many phases, and telco will need to endure a cycle of store lockdowns and re-openings until a vaccine becomes widely available.
Thinking Beyond Physical Retail
To thrive during this pandemic, retailers need to adapt their strategies and quickly implement solutions that will enable digital experiences while following the appropriate measures to safely re-open their stores. “With few exceptions, retail-based businesses have been the hardest hit by COVID-19,” says Baggs. “Strict gathering limits and physical distancing have caused many businesses to abruptly close their storefronts and furlough their staff.”
Digital solutions can help telco retailers serve customers in new ways, including e-commerce, curbside pickup, and self-service apps. Consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels as a low-risk shopping alternative, and throughout the pandemic they’ve been hesitant to visit brick-and-mortar stores. Not surprisingly, ecommerce has seen an explosion in popularity. Forbes reports that many online retail categories have seen a 74% increase in sales in March 2020 vs 2018 levels.
“Demand for digital experiences has never been higher, and even those who were hesitant to shop online are now embracing these experiences,” says Will Gibson, Maplewave’s VP of Marketing and Amplifier Consulting. “The increased demand for digital channels will be here forever. Telcos need to invest in digital channels so they can offer their customers an omnichannel experience.”
White Paper: 11 Strategies to Serve Customers During COVID-19
Telco retailers must find ways to safely serve customers using both physical and digital channels. Maplewave has recently released a whitepaper regarding how telco retailers can survive and thrive during and after COVID-19. “The 11 Solutions Telcos Need to Survive COVID-19” covers each strategy in-depth, including expansive background information and a doing-it-well checklist for each category.
The strategies covered include:
• Curbside Pickup
This has become a preferred shopping experience for many. The good news? It’s a quick pivot for telcos who can already pause and resume orders.
• Door-to-Door Sales and Service
Popular in developing countries, tier 1 markets have started using remote sales/service tactics to bring the store experience to customers’ doorsteps.
• Outbound Marketing Campaigns
With limited store traffic, targeted outbound marketing campaigns are a crucial way to initiate conversations and upsells.
• Kiosk Vending and Collection Lockers
Kiosks are a great way for customers to serve themselves. Depending on the unit, customers can complete simple transactions or even purchase devices and SIM cards.
• Self-Service Applications
These apps are a great way for customers to manage their telco services from their device, eliminating the need for an in-store visit.
• Store Operations
It’s no longer business as usual. Store operations and policies must be updated in line with new realities to keep workers and customers safe.
• Store Layout Adjustments
Well-designed telco stores prioritize free-movements, interactive experiences, and close interactions. To operate safely, telcos must tweak their floor plans and store layouts.
• Controlling Store Traffic
Store gathering limits lead to lineups, which many stores can’t physically accommodate. The best solutions manage queues and eliminate lineups by notifying customers when they can enter the store.
• Stores Without Staff
Although this is not a common strategy yet, these self-service experiential stores are already popping up in advanced, highly urban markets.
• Evaluating and Right-Sizing Your Estate
This pandemic is the perfect time to evaluate staff and store performance to determine which locations are underperforming, and which are under or over-resourced.
• Supply Chain
Telcos need to strengthen their supply chain by investing in tools that can adapt to changing demands and ensure long-term success.
Maplewave is the premier provider of digital solutions and consulting services for the telecommunications industry. Their Transact Anywhere approach connects all channels for a seamless experience – from the warehouse, to the customer, and beyond.
Over the past 30 years, Maplewave has transformed their clients into market leaders by providing unparalleled insights into every aspect of their retail operations.
Maplewave helps their clients execute their channel strategy and deliver an enhanced customer experience through their telco-focused platform and global expertise. Their proprietary Amplifier consulting process helps their clients gain a complete picture of their business, identify their pain points, and shed light on any unrecognized opportunities.
Maplewave has global offices in Canada, South Africa, and the UK.