We are now five months on since the first Coronavirus cases were reported, and while no one could have imagined the devastating impact the virus has had on the world, we are at a stage where some restrictions are being relaxed to try and bring back some form of normality—whether that is extending hours allowed outside or encouraging shops, beaches and parks to reopen.
Last week, it was announced that mobile telecom operator, Orange, have begun opening their stores in France, with 176 stores expected to reopen in major French cities, and all stores open by the end of the month. The stores will allow customers to meet with a sales advisor for in-store transactions such as purchasing a new phone, changing their existing plan, or obtaining a new SIM card.
But Orange isn’t the only one reopening stores—Apple has also begun opening stores in South Korea, China and Australia, where cases of the virus have fallen, and is also opening stores in certain US states. For US store openings, Apple’s focus will again be on customer service and opening its Genius Bar. Both Orange and Apple are putting precautions and social distancing measures in place to maintain the safety of staff and customers.
The need for refurbished devices
It has been widely reported that global smartphone sales have dropped, and there has also been a lack of pre-owned devices available to meet insurance and warranty programs. The store openings are an important move for the telecoms industry, as they will allow operators and OEMs to drive equipment related revenues and meet the short-term need for refurbished devices.
In North America, the majority of retail stores have been closed, and the few that have remained open have not operated as normal. Customers have been ordering new devices online and picking them up curbside, an expansion on the BOPIS concept – Buy On-line Pickup In Store — there is no communication with salespeople in store. But physical stores, and conversations between salespeople and consumers within them, are an important catalyst for device trade-ins. Without them, salespeople are unable to simply ask consumers “would you like to trade-in your existing device to receive money off of your new one?”
Everyone benefits from trade-in
Mobile device trade-ins continue to rise—our own data shows that in Q1 of this year, device trade-ins returned more than $535 million to US consumers—an increase of 1.5% compared to the same quarter as last year, but more still needs to be done. And educating consumers and promoting the availability of these services is important if operators, retailers and OEMs are to truly maximize the opportunities these services present—and having conversations in store with customers is the perfect opportunity to promote and discuss these services.
Mobile device trade-in programs are a win for all parties involved—they allow consumers to receive a financial incentive to put towards the likes of a brand new smartphone, accessories or insurance; they allow operators, retailers and OEMs to increase customer loyalty, drive additional revenues, refurbishing devices to use against insurance offerings or re-selling to emerging markets; and for those in emerging markets, it provides connectivity and opens consumers up to a whole host of new services.
Stores are beginning to reopen
The coronavirus continues to have devastating effects on millions of people across the globe, and thankfully, some countries are starting to see a reduction in the number of cases. Operators, retailers and OEMs are now in a position where they can take measures to safely re-open their stores. Typically, major operators in the U.S. are able to sell as many as 50,000 devices per day through their stores, and these closures have significantly impacted device sales and the availability of pre-owned devices. With more stores reopening, operators, retailers, and OEMs will be able to meet the short-term needs for devices, encourage more device trade-ins and drive revenue—something that is much needed as the market starts to find its feet.