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The new Optus direct sales strategy, mooted last year, is taking shape.

Optus announced in October last year that it would be boosting its direct retail presence. It unloaded to Boost brand on Telstra, and terminated its arrangement with its largest reseller, TeleChoice.

It said then it would open 33 new Optus ‘Yes” stores around Australia. The first of these opens next week in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby. Ten more will open before the end of March. Then in April Optus will begin revamping all its stores. It says it intends to have 100 stores open within 12 months, one third of them new.

In October 2012 Optus hannounced a “refocusing of its retail and distribution strategy to reflect the maturing mobile market and the changing needs of Australian consumers.”

Optus said at the time its new strategy would “see a more integrated retail and online presence and the rationalisation of some distribution channels, enabling Optus to take greater control of the end-to-end customer experience under the Optus brand.” Six months on, we are starting to see what that means.

It means the whole retail phone market is changing. Rohan Ganeson, managing director of sales for Optus, said “As we move from a period of growth to one of customer retention, we need a distribution model that reflects this.

“There is too much capacity in the mobile distribution market and we have made a decision to rationalise our third party distribution channels, while strengthening our branded Optus channels.”

When it announced its new strategy, Optus also notified major distributor TeleChoice that its retail agreements with Optus will come to an end at the end of March – just over two weeks from now. This includes the agreements between TeleChoice and Optus’s related companies Virgin Mobile and Pre-Paid Services.

“As the products and services we sell become more diversified and sophisticated, so too do the needs of our customers. As a result, retail is no longer just a sales channel – it’s a channel where customers come to better understand technology and how to get the most from it,” Ganeson said.

Over the next 12 months Optus plans to evolve its existing branded sales channels to become a single “full service customer channel”. Ganeson said its new strategy includes:

  • “dedicated product experts” who will be on hand to offer practical information and advice to customers on the latest products and services
  • tighter integration between all Optus channels so customers who buy online can collect in-store
  • improved IT systems and infrastructure to better support Optus retail staff in delivering a better customer experience
  • increased focus on employee training and accreditation to ensure more consistent service and product knowledge among Optus retail employees.

Optus announced a major refresh of its retail presence this month with the opening of ten ‘yes’ pilot stores. Today’s announcement is a significant step in Optus’ promise to ensure customers are at the heart of the Brand. Optus’ national network of ‘yes’ stores is being revamped to give customers a brilliant experience from the moment they walk into store.

Throughout March, selected Optus branded ‘yes’ stores along the East Coast will open their doors with a new concept for customers. This includes a focus on service to make it simple and easy for customers to assist in alleviating the frustrations of deciphering mobile plans and understanding the best internet options available.

Rohan Ganeson, Managing Director of Sales, Optus said, “Easier, simpler and better is what our customers have been telling us they want. We’ve listened, and these stores are an opportunity to deliver a better experience.

“We want interactions with Optus to exceed expectations and the feedback, both good and bad, from our pilot stores will be invaluable in helping us shape the experience for the rest of the transformation.”

Consumers are now more connected, more informed, and expect a higher level of service. Optus’ investment in our stores and people is recognition of the changing and maturing market  Optus says the changes are designed to improve the way customers shop and interact in Optus stores. While this transformation is underway, Optus is also working on a revamp of its website and apps to make them more user-friendly.

“This is all part of our objective to deliver the best customer experience possible, whether it’s in store or online,” said Ganeson.

Optus is taking quite a gamble taking its retailing in-house.Vodafone, in getting rid of its Crazy John’s brand, is doing the same.

But Telstra is doing the opposite, taking over Boost and buying Adam Internet. Which strategy do you think will be most successful?

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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