Mark Bridge writes:
Is there any product that offers as much potential for additional sales as the mobile phone?
When I visit a coffee shop to buy a coffee, I’m often asked “would you like any pastries or muffins with that?”
On the one occasion that I bought a new car, I was offered the option of paying extra for different colours, for floor mats and for a fancy stereo.
When you buy a DVD player or a games console, it’s pretty obvious you’ll be paying extra for entertainment.
Yet, when you consider the variety of add-ons available in the mobile industry, I’d say smartphones were in a league of their own.
Mrs Bridge bought a new smartphone at the weekend. Her aging Sony Ericsson developed software problems, so it was time for an upgrade.
First, credit where it’s due. Well done Carphone Warehouse. Our local branch dramatically outperformed the network-run shop we visited first, both in terms of customer service and price as well.
Upgrade complete and contract signed, we turned to the question of transferring contacts from the old phone to the new one. Would our new friends at CPW help us? Yes, they would. They’d whip out their Cellebrite machine for a one-off charge. Alternatively, the service was available as part of a monthly ‘tech support’ Geek Squad subscription. Nicely done. However, as Mrs Bridge is under the impression she’s married to someone who knows about mobile phones, we declined.
Insurance we also declined, although it’s not been ruled out in the longer-term. Time for some comparison shopping before we commit.
Next came the case. Having just turned down insurance, putting the phone inside an attractive leather pouch definitely made sense.
Then there was the screen protector. Mrs B has skipped this for the moment; it seemed a shame to reduce the quality of the display by sticking something on it.
And still to come are any number of chargeable apps and cloud-based services - and accessories ranging from the Bluetooth oven thermometer to the remote-control helicopter.
What struck me after all this wasn’t the ‘hidden’ cost of buying a smartphone. Not the inherently incomplete nature of the new device.
No, it was a point made in the recent results announcement from Carphone Warehouse Group. Along with a slight drop in retail revenue, the company noted “our newer format Wireless World stores offer a wider range of mobile and other connected devices and an enhanced level of service. These stores have proved popular with customers and have delivered compelling returns.”
It went on to talk about “moving more deeply into tablets, accessories, and app-cessories”, adding that this non-cellular sector had significant potential for growth.
Ignoring the pain that the word app-cessories causes me, it seems that Carphone Warehouse is definitely heading in the right direction.
Back in the 1990s, some mobile phone shops would attempt to sell ‘value-added services’ that either added very little value or alternatively were almost-essential services that should have been included anyway.
Today, the smartest retailers are offering additional products and services that consumers actually want - and don’t mind paying for.
The UK may have reached saturation as far as mobile phone connections go. But the market for accessory sales and additional services just keeps growing.