By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Now, more than ever, consumers have an abundance of choices in wireless service, handsets, content and accessories. In 2006, the explosion of niche players, combined with enhanced services from traditional wireless carriers, is making purchase decisions — and the consumer shopping experience — extremely personal and confusing.
This year, many post-paid Mobile Virtual Network Operators debuted — from Mobile ESPN to Disney Mobile, Amp'd Mobile and Helio. All target very specific but overlapping consumer segments. Add to this the trend of private-label retail wireless brands and existing prepaid services, along with highly promoted new service and content offerings such as V CAST from Verizon Wireless, and all of a sudden the purchase of wireless products and services is a maze to be navigated cautiously.
For consumers, this is a good news/bad news proposition.
The good news is the choices are virtually limitless. Phones have become a media hub, the ultimate communication device offering audio, video, news, games and the like. “My phone is my connection to everyone and everything. I'm lost if I don't have it with me,” can be heard from consumers everywhere.
The bad news is the confusion this can cause if wireless retailers aren't properly educated, assorted and merchandised. Consumers are looking for a unique and simplified shopping experience to make their purchase decision process easy.
This is creating an opportunity for wireless retailers to differentiate themselves through their service and product offerings and create long-term loyalty and recurring revenue in the process.
According to the study “Wireless Purchasing Study: Measuring Satisfaction and Loyalty,” published by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in December 2005, wireless customers' overall in-person buying satisfaction is most influenced by communication and explanation of phones and plans in-store.
For indirect retailers, CEA's wireless communications division offers valuable resources to improve buying and manage their businesses successfully. The resources include:
online wireless training and certification via the Wireless Certification Program on ceknowhow.com. This is an essential go-to resource to train new retail associates on wireless technology and the benefits offered to consumers.
the Retailer's Survival Guide, which offers step-by-step guidance on everything from starting up a wireless storefront to managing it and building lasting customer retention.
the Wireless Communications Retailer tool kit, which helps retailers maximize wireless sales. The tool kit includes excerpts from CEA's “Selling Wireless Successfully: The Retailer's Survival Guide and from a Wireless Product Specialist Study Guide.” It also contains consumer research.
The CEA's wireless communications division's research committee also plans to commission a study defining the “Dream Wireless Retail Experience” to better guide wireless retailers toward success.
Let's not forget about the handheld devices themselves. Manufacturers are keeping up with the demands of consumers in recently launched handsets.
It's clear that a new game has emerged in purchasing wireless services. Who will be the winner?
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.