This “inclusive” approach sets 3 apart
from the rest of the mobile retail industry.
Typically, a mobile phone shop is a
cluttered affair with racks of dummy
phones that no one can actually use.
But the 3Stores are roomy and serene
and feature a small number of “portals”
which customers are encouraged to try
out for themselves with the help of expert
It’s not a high-pressure sales approach,
or an experience for “nerds” – it’s a
gentle introduction to a new video world.
Even the briefest visit sparks the
imagination and leaves you with plenty to
think about – and act upon. Marc Allera,
UK Director of Retail Sales, stresses the
differences between “box shifting” and
launch in the UK and Italy.
Few players have similar such
global strategies, and those that do
have not been in a hurry to act. In
effect, 3 will meet consumers’
needs locally yet operate on an
international scale. This global
reach has already served the company well in terms of
leveraging technological know-how and aggregating
Given that the prevailing sentiment towards 3G has
been profoundly bearish over the past two years, investors could
be in for a pleasant upside surprise.
La Stampa
noted “an important and unexpected signal
from the market” in November when shop owners and dealers
chose to add 3 to their offer. “They have not only closed a
deal with H3G, risking ‘diplomatic incidents’ with other
operators, but they have also
to sell 3’s products,” the
newspaper said.
In the UK meanwhile, research from theVIPer consortium,
which tracks Britain’s “AB professionals” aged 25-54, found that
ownership of WAP-enabled handsets had quadrupled in 18
months,“suggesting a future positive response to 3G.” Carphone
Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone
concurs:“We are on the cusp of a new
handset buying frenzy, fuelled by 3G
technology and camera phones,” he said.
In future, Hutchison believes,
previous technologies will seem quaintly
In the same way as consumers do not
upgrade their five-year-old car by buying the
same model, it is unlikely that mobile users will
want to stay with their 2G phone when they can
migrate to a more efficient,more useful and more
entertaining 3G device instead.
3G is faster, cleverer, more diverse and more fun than 2G –
and as competitively priced. In a couple of years’ time, people
will perhaps wonder what all the negative sentiment was about.
“We will continue to refine and expand our offering for many
months to come,” says Tucker. “Our first goal is to prove our
fundamental thesis – that 3G is a powerful new medium destined
to change the way we all live our lives.”
If consumers do warm to the new technology as Hutchison
expects, then 3 will do nothing less than shape the future of an
entire new industry.
initiating the general public into a whole
new experience.
“You won’t see handsets locked away in
cabinets here.As soon as you walk in you
can try the services for yourself.”
He lists the most popular, so far,
as videos of Premiership football goals,
person-to-person videocalls, multimedia
messaging (MMS) and text-to-speech
“The environment in our stores is
constantly changing, so it’s organic, flexible
and fluid. We can change the customer
experience overnight so that we always
remain fresh.”
Mike Ord, Manager of the Oxford
Street store, says: “I expect the public to
be attracted to the stores because of the
way they look – modern and clean, cool
on the outside but warm and welcoming
on the inside. It’s all about encouraging
people to interact with us. We have so
many ‘wow’ products. This is just the
starting point for us and we’re going to
blow people’s socks off when they
understand what we can do.”
With services ranging from stock
market prices and news to football clips
and interactive games, “there’s something
for everyone,” he says.
Including the “Negozio 3” flagship
stores, franchise outlets and multi brand
outlets, some 1,200 stores in Italy now
offer 3 products and services,
In the UK, three dedicated 3Stores –
two in London and another in Birmingham
– offer customers the 3 experience, and
these are backed up by high-street retailers
such as Phones 4U, CarphoneWarehouse,
The Link and selected Dixons stores
where customers can purchase the
hardware. There are also plans to open
stores-within-stores at branches of
Superdrug outlets, which are Hutchison-
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