More crucial than ever in the day of the $1,000 phone

The ever-changing landscape of retail is undergoing another major shift.

The industry has been faced with several new disruptive realities, driven by competitors and customers that are changing the retail buying experience and influencing retailers to adopt omnichannel strategies.

As “dot com” stores started gaining popularity in the 2000s, consumers flocked to the Internet and loaded up their online carts. Brick-and-mortar retailers like Barnes & Noble and Walmart felt the pinch as Amazon’s prowess and ubiquity expanded the depth and breadth of its product catalog and geographic reach.

See: How Retailers Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Internet

In the mobile retail market specifically, omnichannel strategies have become the norm. Consumer mentality has been driven by the success of indirect competitors like Amazon, which has forced change within the whole industry. Customers now want complete flexibility as part of their vetting and purchasing journey, and retailers are abiding.

Paving The Way For Mobile Trade-Ins

With the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and Android’s answer to it, the market for smartphones took off and technology innovation throttled the need to upgrade every two years or less. Now in 2018, smartphones can cost upwards of $1,000 and wireless retailers need trade-in to reduce the cost for customers to upgrade. This is paving the way for the burgeoning trade-in market, but the process can be painful for online customers — ultimately hurting the brand experience.

There are many instances in which customers are quoted a value based on conditional questions when managing a trade-in online. They then wait for boxes, package up the device, ship the device to the trade partner, and wait for the trade-in provider to assess the condition. If there are no discrepancies between the condition stated and what the provider receives, the customer payment is shipped and again, the customer waits.

If there are discrepancies, the provider contacts the owner of the device with a new price. They can either accept or reject this adjusted price. But this of course lengthens the process even more, and causes confusion and frustration.

The Omnichannel Experience

We live in a world of immediacy and instant gratification. An omnichannel trade-in experience provides the answer by offering a choice and less hassle.

Selecting a trade-in provider and integrating retail stores with online channels allows wireless retailers to deliver a better customer experience and increase revenue opportunities. Consumers can purchase a new device, immediately visit the retailer to pick up their new device, and trade-in their old one. No more waiting for boxes or dealing with shipping; just immediate purchase, drop-off and payment.

Offering this flexibility enables mobile retailers to differentiate their offering and build a loyal customer base.

Caveat Emptor

Not all trade-in service provider platforms are created equal. From trade-in values to integration capabilities, mobile retailers must find a partner that is aligned with their business strategy and process. Omnichannel experiences require a trade platform that is reliable, flexible and offers scalability, so customers can be seamlessly passed off between channels.

Now that the novelty of the Internet has leveled, the mobile market is finding that its customers are looking to experience ease during their shopping journey. With the enablement of omnichannel experiences, the customer is in control of how they shop. Further, it creates a unique opportunity for mobile retailers to leverage trade-in providers and new technology to accommodate customers when they need a replacement device, or are looking to get the latest tech at a reduced cost. A true win/win for everyone.

Stephen Wakeling is a wireless industry entrepreneur with a 10-year track record of developing disruptive, technology-powered services. He is the co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Phobio, LLC, a software development company that builds optimized software services to support wireless carriers and retailers, including its flagship product Safetrade.

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