Our Managing Director discusses a recent Retail visit in Dublin City Centre.

Recently, I had to visit a city centre store of our company cell phone provider to pick up a couple of new handsets last week and the visit made me think – Can cell phone retailer’s retail?

Whilst waiting on the paperwork, the sales consultant explained this wait was due to the company’s new slow software, happily showing me the computer screen as it churned slowly. I had no choice to observe what was going on around me. In the 30 minutes there, four different and potential customers came into the shop.

Customer 1– Young Chinese guy looking for a plan that would include value minutes to China. Sales consultant tells him he should use Skype or Whatsapp! Customer leaves bewildered.

Customer 2-Young Girl in her 20’s looking for €20 call credit. Sales consultant tells her that there is a problem with their systems and whilst he can sell it to her, she won’t be able to register it for use! Customer leaves bewildered.

Customer 3– Mature lady in her fifties. Has lost her phone needs to buy a new phone pronto. Sales consultant notes that she doesn’t have the required ID. Customer leaves frustrated.

Customer 4– Female Student. Wants to pick up nice smart phone on prepay. Sales consultant delights on telling her that the one she picked is €500. Why not go bill pay. Student explains that she is a student and has no credit history etc for Bill pay. Consultant shrugs her off and offer no alternative. Customer leaves frustrated.

When I looked at the shop itself I noticed only around 20% of the handsets on display actually worked, the rest were just bland blank glass as smart phones are these days when not turned on. The accessories were not merchandised with the handsets, instead held on wall hooks that were under lock and key at the tills. Shouldn’t you merchandise the accessories by their phones? Don’t all retailers want additional sales? Isn’t there a cracking margin in accessories?

So in conclusion, I don’t think Cell phone operators can retail. Shame really when they have so many shops yet so many disgruntled customers.