With so many national carriers operating their own retail locations alongside the various big box stores that have their own store-within-a-store experiences, it makes sense why so many independent consumer electronics retailers have avoided the idea of selling smartphones in their stores. Not to mention, the traditional retail process of getting a customer to sign up for a plan can take seemingly hours between all of the paperwork and credit checks that go into it. And then there’s the matter of inventory.
Well, at their recent PrimeTime show, Nationwide Marketing Group (NMG) decided to throw convention out the window—like they typically tend to do—and give their members a simple and painless way to get into the smartphone game.
A new partnership that was announced with AT&T at the show will give Nationwide members the ability to add smartphones to their in-store repertoire along with the option to bundle other AT&T services, including DIRECTV and AT&T Broadband. The program, which will be administered by DSI Systems, involves setting up a low-cost in-store display, a minor amount of training for the retailer’s sales team, and that’s about it. The retailer can get right to selling.
“In all my years working with DIRECTV/AT&T and NMG, I have never seen them put together a program as strong and supportive as this one,” Pete Lago, Senior VP of Sales at DSI Systems, told Dealerscope. “AT&T wants the NMG members in this business and together with NMG have put together an incredible opportunity for the member base through their partnership with DSI.”
The program is based around DSI’s SARA Plus system, which allows the retailer to sell AT&T’s products individually or as part of a bundled package. The in-store process lasts about 10 minutes, from running through the various options across the services and getting the customer approved. From there, all deliveries of product and/or in-home installation jobs are set up and taken care of without the retailer really needing to be involved. So, essentially, it trims down that process and gives the retailer a brand new stream of revenue without having to worry about managing a ton of extra inventory—or any at all really.
But the benefits of an offering like this extend beyond just a painless in-store experience. There’s the potential for the retailer to create a much more frequent shopping experience with their new mobility customers.
“In today’s environment the retailer would enjoy a customer returning to their location once every two years as phones launch several times a year,” Bob Popovich, Senior Program Manager for DSI Systems, told Dealerscope. “The launch of 5G will necessitate a huge opportunity for consumers to switch phones over the next few years driving more footprints into our retailers’ locations.”
And that was really one of the main selling points of this program for Nationwide. At their PrimeTime press conference, Chief Member Advocate Tom Hickman called out the group’s desire to help its members drive more regular foot traffic. Appliances and furniture are certainly great options, but they only see turnover rates of about once every five to seven years. Smartphones, as we know, have a far more frequent refresh cycle.
What’s more, the addition of a smartphone solution for retailers helps to complete the connected tech story that the buying group has been working to build for its membership. For all of the smart home tech, the Google and Nest partnership, the launch of smart TVs, and the proliferation of voice assistants in nearly every appliance these days, there’s one thing that brings all of that tech together—the smartphone. And by giving its retailers a compelling case to get into the smartphone game, they now can offer their customers a complete picture of the connected tech landscape.
Will selling smartphone or DIRECTV packages make perfect sense for every independent retailer out there? Probably not. But, at the very least, this gives retailers out there who’ve been craving a stress-free way to get into that space a very viable option to do just that. And it gives the curious retailer a way to dip their toes in the smartphone pool with a low-risk, high-reward solution. You can’t really ask for much more than that.