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New Retail Analysis Tool Tackles VoIP

Chicago — A new retail analysis tool, called Retail Snapshot, marked its entry in the analysis game by turning its sites on the burgeoning market for VoIP services at retail.

Retail Snapshot is the product of a partnership between marketing firm Baskin Associates and retail analytics company ChannelWatch. The research is produced in part by field staff gathering in-store data such as brand presence, location in store, number of competitors and promotional activity at retail locations (online and brick and mortar) in major U.S. markets.

The results of its first effort, according to Jonathan Baskin, principal, Baskin Associates, were promising for both IP service providers and retailers selling the service.

“VoIP isn’t another ‘widget’ but a replacement for a primary telephone line, so it’s a big purchase,” Baskin said.

VoIP’s benefits — cheaper long distance — are easy to promote at retail and have generated a good deal of enthusiasm with retail store associates, said Jennifer Clauson, president, ChannelWatch. Clauson credited the online advertising done by Vonage and others for generating customer awareness and bringing a knowledgeable customer base into stores.

“Unlike many CE products that are looking for a market, or are purposed for enhanced experience, VoIP is simply a better mousetrap, Clauson said.

“What the early entrants have done is get almost every salesperson [we canvassed] to say that he or she believed VoIP would be one of the top two or three hits this holiday season, and brand recognition and price are driving a lot of that at retail.”

That said, a lack of marquee hardware brands offering VoIP-enabled products could impede growth, Baskin said.

The only two strongly represented brands at retail were the service providers Vonage and AT&T, Baskin noted.