Online stores get operatorsaa‚¬a„¢ attention

Newsroom 19/04/2010 | 11:22

Telecom operators’ online stores are increasingly becoming important sales channels for their products and services, especially for the more technically-savvy customer, and Orange, Vodafone and Romtelecom have already opened online outlets. Not only that, but some are forming partnerships with other online retailers to ensure a better dissemination of their products. For example, both Orange and Vodafone have on-going partnerships with eMag.

Otilia Haraga

 

“Customers who prefer to do their buying online are more technically-savvy; for instance, they understand more quickly the difference between the technologies used for internet services. In spite of this, we could not say that they prefer other functionalities, just that they understand much better those that our services offer,” says Alina Petri, manager of the portal division at Romtelecom.

She says that generally, people who use the services of online stores are younger, spend more time at work and in front of the computer, have medium and high incomes and are familiar with the new technologies.

“The online shopper is interested in the newest gadgets, gathers online information regarding the most recent innovations in communications, and is willing to set aside a bigger budget for the acquisition of IT&C services: phones, laptops and accessories,” says Andreea Belenes, online manager at Orange Romania.

This also means that “the value of the average order placed in the Orange online store is slightly

higher than that of a purchase made in classic retail stores,” adds Belenes.

Valentin Sulfideanu, manager of online capabilities at Vodafone Romania, agrees that online buyers are “very well informed” and before making up their minds to buy a certain product, they “check and compare” various types of devices, read reviews of phones and ask the opinion of other users.

“Up to a certain point, this behavior also takes place with offline channels, but on the online platform it is much more intense. Also, the average value of an online transaction is higher than for an offline transaction,” he confirms.

“We have buyers who are informed and educated about the various available technologies and services, who choose much more high-end services and handsets.”

Orange launched its online store, the first one run by an operator, in 2005.

“The online sales channel is part of the strategic priorities of Orange at group level. It is and will be important, both as the focus of the organization and for the weight it makes up in the results of the company,” says Belenes.

Last year, there were approximately 8 million visitors to the company’s site, of whom 1 million alone accessed it in December. Of these, on average 60 percent visit the online store.

“We expect a consistent growth in the number of visitors in 2010 as well,” said Belenes.

Pre-pay cards and phones purchased along with a contract extension are best-selling products in the Orange online store.

In 2009, its ‘VIP-phones’ were the iPhone 3G and 3GS, LG GT 505, Nokia E63 and Sony Ericsson.

The first project from Orange this year to improve the purchase experience of online customers involves product reviews, which allows visitors to the site to make their mind up with help from the reviews and impressions of other users.

Orange’s online projects this year aim mainly to improve the experience of the user, whether through relevant offers, fast delivery, various ways of ordering, tracking the order or when the customer needs assistance and wants to administer their online account, such as through bill payment, pre-pay recharging, service activation and options.

Vodafone launched its e-store in December, 2008. Currently, the store is experiencing a significant number of transactions especially on the segment for contract extension.

A significant percentage of transactions taking place online involve the extension of users’ contracts, but the number of new clients who choose to sign online contracts is also increasing and starting to hold sway in the company’s total sales.

The best sold products in Vodafone’s e-store are post-pay offers in the Vodafone Complet range. And the most popular handsets on Vodafone’s online platform have been from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and HTC Magic.

In the category of laptops, the models which have had rave sales have been the Lenovo and Acer.

“Our future efforts will go in three directions: attractive offers for clients, the continuous simplification of the purchase process, and the development of instruments through which users will obtain all the necessary information to acquire the device that best suits their needs,” says Sulfideanu, of the firm’s strategy.

Recently, Vodafone closed partnerships with eMag, PCfun, Cel.ro and PCGarage allowing the customers of these stores to sign mobile data subscriptions with the purchase of any laptop or netbook and, depending on their chosen post-pay offer, to get discounts on any laptop or desktop model.

Previously, like its main competitor, Orange also signed a partnership with eMag, which will allow the latter’s customers to acquire online Orange mobile data post-pay products with the purchase of any laptop or notebook in the eMag range.

Last year, after Romtelecom re-launched its website, the sales platform was rethought as well.

“In the first stage, we implemented an online application through which one could send orders, while the integrated e-commerce platform became functional in March this year,” says Petri.

The company intends that by the end of the year, approximately 5 percent of the volume of total

sales will come through the virtual store.

In Romtelecom’s online store, from the range of voice handsets, the best sold are landline telephones with cable.

The telecom company also showcases electronic products, of which the most popular are printers, television sets and notebooks. The most sought after online services in Romtelecom’s virtual store are internet related. The online store comprises all the offers that the company has in its retail stores, but also includes special online offers not available in stores. “We are talking about a differentiator among sales channels with a view to boosting the consumer’s trust in electronic commerce,” says Petri.

The latest online offer in Romtelecom’s e-store is its new internet portfolio.

 

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