MTN is shaking up its retail experience by introducing a new era of smart device shopping 

MTN is raising the levels of customer experience to the retail shop experience at your nearest mall. By Gugu Lourie

Larry Annetts, Chief Consumer Officer at MTN South Africa, on Monday afternoon “let the cat out of the bag” when he said the country’s second biggest mobile phone operator had opened its first digital store.

Larry Annetts, MTN's chief consumer officer
Larry Annetts, MTN’s chief consumer officer

The high-tech retail store, which is designed to offer a seamless in-store customer experience, is situated at the newly opened Mall of Africa.

The newly opened mall is Africa’s largest single-phase shopping centre, situated at the heart of Waterfall in Midrand, between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The digital shop is the first of many to be rolled-out in South Africa. The new shop is designed to provide customers with a seamless and pleasant experience that truly lives up to its theme “Inspire Me, Engage Me, Help Me”.

However, MTN didn’t specify whether its existing retail stores will be all converted into the new high-tech stores.

What’s even more amazing about this high-tech retail store is that it is set-up to offer a seamless and distinct customer experience.

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The Mall of Africa store is designed in such a way that it can inspire a customer to appreciate the digital world offered by smart devices.

It allows for a full engagement with the customer by allowing the store set up to demonstrate all brands from smart phones, tablets to accessories.

This is critical as retail store are still the oxygen that fires up the profitability of most of the mobile phone operators in selling smart devices – tablets, phones, dongles and accessories.

A bad customer experience at the coal face of the company’s brand, which is the retail store, may mean a loss of customers and revenue.

Competitors such as Telkom, Vodacom and Cell C are also upping the ante on customer experience.

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But their retail stores are still designed in an old fashion way that falls short of the aspired experience sought by discerning smart digital customers.

MTN’s move to develop a high-tech store is part of its strategy to deliver a new, bold digital strategy to its customers in an enabling seamless environment.

The high-tech store is also aimed at fostering customer loyalty.

Present, new and future customers can decide for themselves if MTN is really taking their needs into consideration with the new high-tech store.

Hopefully, the new high-tech stores will help MTN regain lost ground.

That said, it would be great if MTN rivals – Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C follow suite to revamp their stores.

If they don’t do so, MTN will regain its edge over its rivals as it puts the customer at the centre of its customer service.

However, the MTN high-tech store will be no magic bullet to attracting customers.

The second-biggest mobile phone operator will need to do more than that. It has to come up with new propositions for its voice and data services to retain and entice customers.

MTN might have a secret weapon in Annetts. He has managed to grow MTN Caller Tunes by partnering with local and global artists. He has managed to stabilise MTN’s proposition on data and voice products.

MTN’s CEO Mteto Nyathi might have seen something in Annetts’ by tasking him to please and entice South African mobile phone customers.

Maybe, the deployment of high-tech stores is the first ammunition by Annetts to position MTN as a leading operator in order to defeat Vodacom as the country’s biggest mobile phone operator.

It will be interesting to watch the moves of MTN’s new Chief Consumer Officer. Maybe the consumer space for mobile phone users is about to get even more interesting.

IMAGES: The high-tech retail store, which is designed to offer a seamless in-store customer experience, is situated at the newly opened Mall of Africa.

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The new MTN high-tech retail store
The new MTN high-tech retail store, which is designed to offer a seamless in-store customer experience, is situated at the newly opened Mall of Africa.

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