Retail MVNOs: Digital opportunities for telcos

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Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNOs) today are seen by Telcos as partners in growth and innovation. 2016 will be the year of digital MVNOs, as they evolve to offer services other than data and voice. Earlier, MVNOs differentiated through competitive pricing and exclusive content. However, these strategies cease to be a differentiating factor due to overuse; and newer strategies are being adopted by specialized MVNOs catering to Retail, Media, Lifestyle, Roaming, and Telecom segments, targeting a niche audience with unique needs. Beyond the telecoms, Retail MVNOs is fast catching up as they help MNOs increase loyalty and reduce churn. Many Retail giants Carrefour, 7-Eleven, Ikea, Casas Bahia, Pao de Acucar, Walmart, Tesco, Aldi, Falabella, T24Mobile, Delhaize have invested heavily and coming up with their own MVNOs to offer complimentary product offerings with their existing retail products. The reasons behind increasing interest from retailers in launching an MVNO are quite obvious. They have their existing distributor network as well as sales force, have access to loyal and segmented customers, existing brand equity and recall value. They can easily leverage through cross-sell and up-sell, use the intelligence of their customers buying patterns, drive increased sales in core business with new revenue streams etc. However, to differentiate from their parent company, Retail MVNOs need to stand out and offer innovative ways to connect with its target audience. Below are a few ways differentiation could be achieved:
  • Dynamic web storefronts: Since modern day retailers have a huge product portfolio they need to ensure that their products are available 24/7, either in person, over the phone or online. Retailers should never fail to tap the engagement opportunity with their customers at any given point in time. The intuitive & responsive web interface should support dynamic web content, since the content is updated frequently. Moreover, the content should be integrated with product catalogue to cater to a huge array of retail and telecom products.
  • Personalized Plans: Sending the right information to the right audience can be achieved through the use of analytics to have personalized plans for the Subscriber. Retails MVNOs are already aware about their subscriber usage pattern like purchase history, location, browsing, payment mode and demographics such as age, gender, income, education etc.
  • Loyalty Points / Bundled Plans: Retail MVNOs can offer a strong retail-telecom linked value proposition to increase sales. Customers will be encouraged to use one service for discount on other. For every purchase made through stores, customers get additional talk time. The same is also applicable in a reverse scenario, for every recharge done; you get discount coupons from the stores. E.g – You earn Tesco Club card points for every £1 you spend with Tesco Mobile.
  • Cross-sell Products: Retail MVNOs such as Tesco Mobile can easily leverage on large retailer’s brand name, logistics and intelligence to not only attract new customers but also cross-sell products to Tesco’s  5 million subscriber base.
  • Mobile App: To stay competitive and accessible Retails MVNO’s should launch their own mobile app to keep the subscriber connected. The apps can be used by their customers to check balances, make payment, subscribe to new plans, recharge their account etc. The same app can be used to send personalized plans and deals based on the subscriber usage pattern and demographics. E.g. T24 Mobile from Future Retail Limited.
  • Social Media Connect: Social networking has hit the world like a storm and it is playing a major role in how we communicate. Retailers can have a backend system in place that tracks customer’s updates and find out his interests to up-sell products. The MVNOs can regularly update their social media accounts with offers, deals or contests and stay connected. It can also act as a platform to resolve customer’s queries apart from keeping your customers up to date on all your offerings.
  • Exclusive Content – Content catering to a specific age group, lifestyle or ethnic population through music, news, games, film along with basic mobile services can take the customer experience to a whole new level, thereby creating a market differentiation.

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