As of this writing, the pandemic situation may be starting to look up a little. This has prompted many states to gradually relax their social distancing guidelines, allowing certain businesses – including carrier stores – to reopen.
On its face, this seems like good news for the telecom industry, especially since the vast majority of smartphone sales happen to take place during face-to-face retail transactions. The problem emerges when you consider that even though states and governors are bullish about restarting the economy, the public is understandably wary about returning to in-person commerce.
According to recent polls, about 70 percent of the public support keeping social distancing rules in place for as long as possible. Meanwhile, analysts are projecting that sales levels won’t approach their old normal until at least nine months from now. All of this speaks to the fact that when telecom carriers reopen their retail establishments, they’re going to make sure that customers and employees feel safe.
Letting Customers Visit the Store – While Continuing to Keep them Safe
Three techniques are going to be key for making sales and fulfilling purchases while reassuring your customers: buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), no-touch retail, and contactless delivery.
BOPIS is important for several reasons. First of all, it’s going to be one of the best ways to let more tech-savvy customers pick up their devices while minimizing their time in the store. In this scenario, customers would order a device online or over the phone, receive the device in the retail store or curbside, and then complete setup at home. Not only is this relatively convenient for the customer, it also helps stores serve customers much quicker.
Customers that want to browse or need help setting up their phone may need no-touch retail. This approach keeps customers as safe as possible inside the retail store while still giving them the technical assistance that they may need. Here, the consumer first makes an appointment ahead of time. When they reach the store, they can check in using a sanitized kiosk, make contactless payments, and accept terms and conditions via a link sent over SMS. This is a great way to provide the full retail experience for customers without exposing them to any risk.
If someone chooses to make a purchase from a retail store over the phone or through online, contactless delivery is the safest way to complete the transaction. Carriers have already been known to expedite shipping by transporting phones directly from retail stores to the customer. Adding a contactless option in which the consumer doesn’t have to talk to a delivery person or sign for their package is a commonsense next step.
Keeping Trade-in Top of Mind
We know that trade-in programs provide great benefits to carriers, retailers and OEMs – revenues go up, increase in customer satisfaction, greater take rates, more accessory sales – and for consumers, trade-in provides greater savings and the satisfaction in knowing their devices will not end up in a landfill. However, not all consumers are aware of trade-in benefits and may not be thinking about it when they are making their purchase without the assistance of a salesperson. So, how do you encourage trade-in when encounters with salespeople are being diminished?
We can expect that even as stores re-open many consumers will still choose to purchase on-line. Trade-in messaging should be prominent on the site and the customer should be queried at least once, at some point during the sale, if they would like to trade-in their device. Possible wording could be, “Would you like to see what your existing device is worth?” Providing a link to learn more about trade-in is also helpful. Just as the need to educate customers in-store about trade-in, informing them on the many benefits, aside from the monetary aspect, is critical. Consumers may not realize the stringent data clearing, beyond what a simple factory reset, that takes place when a device is traded in. Plus, there is the environmental benefit that is appealing to many.
Of course, there will still be foot traffic in the stores, but conversations between customers and salespeople may not be as robust as they once were. Having plenty of signage about trade-in within the store and even staff wearing pins prompting customers to ask about trade-in will help keep trade-in in the forefront.
How Do You Make Device Trade-In Safe for Employees?
If someone wants to trade in their old device when purchasing a new smartphone, there may need to be added precautions that could easily be put in place. Phones are legendary vessels for germs – they’re things that we touch all the time. Retail operations should train staff on how to properly disinfect a customer’s device before doing the necessary steps to conduct the trade-in. However, there are also other options where the staff does not need to come in contact with the customer’s smartphone.
The first option is to simply let consumers mail their phones in. The customer would purchase their new phone, receive a mailer, and then send it to the processing facility with their old phone enclosed. The only danger here is that a customer might forget to complete the trade-in process.
A better option might be to let the customer start the trade-in in the store and then finish it at home. While at the store, carriers and retailers could give the customer a link to an app that would allow them to assess the phone’s trade-in value, remove the password, and so on. Once the app does its work, the customer could mail the phone in as above. As an advantage, carriers could then use the app to send push notifications reminding customers to remember to send their old phone in the mail.
If you need to set up a contactless trade-in program, HYLA Mobile has the answer. We have experience setting up smartphone trade-in logistics across multiple channels, and we know how to provide an experience that’s both safe and convenient for the customer and your staff while providing maximum value for carriers and retailers. If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to contact HYLA Mobile today!