It has been a pleasure having Enrique Segarra, Head of Trade Marketing at PhoneHouse, for this interview. We talk in depth about physical stores, their importance in offering a successful shopping experience to our customers, as well as the techniques to get the most out of them.
Enrique is a faithful believer in this business model, placing special emphasis on its usefulness as a means of maintaining close and personalized contact with customers. A point that is undoubtedly differentiated from online commerce.
Do you want to know more about Enrique’s opinions about retail, technology and the formulas to have a successful store? Don’t miss this interview.
Retail Sector Interview – The future of physical stores
We begin by assessing the current context of the retail sector
The pandemic was a before and after for many retailers, especially at the beginning, at the hardest moment, but little by little the sector has been returning to normality with significant learning and with a consumer that has also evolved.
In general, the sector has begun a transformation to adapt to all these cultural changes and to the way in which the consumer now buys, with the introduction of the latest technologies (blockchain, IA,…) and new omnichannel strategies to combine the needs of the consumer and merge the online world with the offline.
Will traditional/offline physical stores disappear?
From our point of view, no. For us, physical stores are essential to help consumers make decisions.
In our case, the capillarity of PhoneHouse’s physical stores allows us to be closer to our customers, to truly advise them. Being like that neighborhood bookstore where the bookseller advises you a novel that you will like, because of what you have bought on other occasions or what you have told him. For us that is essential and we are not going to lose it, quite the contrary.
We want to be even closer with a highly differentiated and unpredictable personality where anything is possible, including the most unexpected offers.
We firmly believe that what makes the difference is being close to your customers, understanding them and looking for solutions that meet their needs, in a totally independent way and at a very competitive price.
What are its defects and virtues in front of the online store?
We believe that the fundamental thing is to be able to be present at the different moments in which the customer is thinking of making a purchase. Today the consumer needs to touch what he is going to buy or find out about the characteristics of a specific product from the comfort of his home. The key for a company like us is to accompany them in that decision-making.
In this sense, one of the great advantages of physical stores and, particularly one of PhoneHouse’s hallmarks, is the proximity to people. Many times the client has a specific need and does not know how to cover it. That is where being able to consult with someone who advises you in person and offers you a service or a product in an impartial way is vital for the consumer. So much so, that at PhoneHouse we firmly believe that what makes the difference is being close to your customers, understanding them and looking for solutions that meet their needs, in a totally independent way and at a very competitive price.
And this is not in conflict with being able to have an online store where you provide other ways of purchasing, as well as information on products and services, product comparisons, etc… In this way, the shopping experience is complementary, so that the consumer can, having clear what you want to buy, buy the product you want, when you want and decide whether to receive it at home or in a physical store.
What is the biggest problem or weakness that physical stores have to face?
There are several aspects that are decisive in a physical store: space, location, opening hours, etc., which in the case of an online store are not so decisive. For this reason, at PhoneHouse we believe that combining the benefits of both purchase channels is not only positive for the company, but also for offering a better shopping experience to customers.
We have more than 10,000 references and we distribute the services of more than 25 mobile phone brands, telecommunications, energy and mobile leasing operators. Can you imagine how our stores would have to be to continue to be present in all the provinces in Spain?
In the current context, what role does technology play in retail?
The retail sector has always been very changeable and has evolved to the extent that society and consumer trends have. And therefore, brands must always adapt to this evolution to continue to be present in the mind of the consumer.
The introduction of new technologies is, without a doubt, one of those trends that are helping to transform the sector, not only for the consumer, but also aimed at improving the supply chain.
Highlight a current technology or innovation that you think is setting the trend
There are already blockchain options to track products from their origin until they arrive on a shelf in a store or in a logistics warehouse. Even until it reaches the customer’s home. It is a way to avoid merchandise losses, follow the status of the product or optimize the time from when the product leaves the warehouse until it reaches its destination.
But there are also other technologies, such as commerce through social networks or the application of Artificial Intelligence for data analysis, with which we can improve the information we have about what works or does not work in our company and for the consumer.
In our case, we are developing different projects aimed at improving our omnichannel strategy with the client with some of these technologies, where data is strategic.
The introduction of new technologies is undoubtedly one of those trends that are helping to transform the sector.
What does it take for a store to work? Is there a magic recipe?
As I told you before, our essence after 25 years is dealing with people, closeness, being able to advise clients in a totally independent way and offering them a very competitive price.
In our case, we have known how to evolve to remain the same. We started in a market where the first steps were taken in mobile telephony and today there is practically no one who does not have a mobile phone, which is also used for many other things apart from calls.
We have just transformed our own brand identity, taking advantage of the high recognition we have in the market, but taking a qualitative leap in the way we approach the consumer, with innovation, surprises and novelties that are not expected and that are part of how we want to continue addressing the consumer.
How do you achieve customer loyalty?
Surely there is no single way to do it, but if I think of PhoneHouse, it has been key for our company to adapt to the small revolutions that have been taking place in the mobile telephony sector. We have grown and expanded our services, going from previously offering telephones anchored to the operator, then free telephones, to contracting ADSL, cable and now fiber and even satellite. We have also been pioneers in offering services for repurchasing mobile phones and selling refurbished ones, insurance, repairs, mobile leasing and, of course, electricity and gas services for the home, as the market has liberalized and always giving something more than the others.
And after so many years, we continue to be a benchmark, always maintaining our dealings with people and our impartiality when offering services.
How do you see the future of retail?
The sector will continue to transform as it has always done. This is going to lead us to have different physical stores every time, with more details, that help attract the consumer so that the customer lives an experience with the brands. This is how we will achieve that “engagement“, which is called in the Anglo-Saxon world, and which is still a way to captivate the consumer, with the power to completely transform the relationship that brands had established with customers up to now. It’s like making your partner fall in love again, whom you already know and know what they like.
All of this, without forgetting the advantages offered by both technology to strengthen this brand-consumer relationship, and the shopping experience by combining physical stores with online stores.
Discovering Flame Analytics
It is time for you to start measuring what occurs in your retail store and how you clients behave when they visit you place. Choose Flame analytics solution for Retail sector and optimize your business and marketing strategies according to collected and precise data. You will be able to understand your customers needs and preferences, and predict trends and patters.