Andy Zeinfeld is President of Brightstar Global Sales and Channel Development.

Allocation, Allocation, Allocation

Let’s start with the obvious: allocation. It’s the biggest single challenge our customers face around launches as there are never enough new devices to meet market demand.

This means you’re going to have to get really smart with how you distribute the devices you do have available to ensure the best possible outcomes in regard to retention of existing customers and the acquisition of new ones.

By applying smart supply chain and retail analytics to your existing data you can ensure you get your stock to the outlets where you’ll get most benefit from it. During launch it’ll also help you spot and manage any cases of stock hoarding or blocking that can lower your business’ device activation rate which can in turn lead to reduced supply from manufacturers. It’s also good practice to review your staff incentive structures to ensure they’ll deliver the results you want from the launch period. What works well for your business for the majority of the year is unlikely to be optimal for peak trading around major launches.

It’s trade-in time

The launch of a new handset can lead to two to three times the normal volume of trade-ins, and on certain days we’ve even seen it rise to a multiple of seven times if the new device is viewed as being a step-change from its predecessor.  This means that you’re going to have a compelling trade-in offer or risk seeing existing and new customers take their business elsewhere.

And having the offer is only part of the story. Many customers will want help with porting the content of their phone, including contacts, photos, apps and messages to their new device. If you’re going to make the most of the trade-in opportunity you need to start training your staff now. You might also want to thinking about whether you’ll need additional in-store or contact centre staff ready to respond to peak demand in the weeks following launch.

It costs how much?

New models tend to be launched as a premium product with a price point to match. This means the asking price could be more than some consumers are willing or able to pay upfront or on a contract. You’re going to need to get creative about financing options to serve these customers. In some markets, notably the US, Australia and the Netherlands, leasing is really taking off as carriers move away from subsidy models so that could be an option to consider depending on the mix of your customer base.

Getting the most out of it

Around major launches we see a spike in demand for accessories as customers purchase accessories to get the most out of, and protect, their new device. You need to plan now to ensure a great choice of products covering cases, screen protectors, spare chargers, headphones and speakers. Cater for all price points so that you’ve got a product that suits every customer’s budget.

Murphy’s law strikes again

In the same way that brand new cars seem to attract more than their fair share of dings, scrapes and prangs, many people drop their new device within weeks of taking it out of the box.  Help your customers recover from the inconvenience of a cracked screen and misery of retail regret by offering them a comprehensive insurance and repair service.

Overall it’s a great opportunity for retailers and carriers to do what they do best, which is turn increased consumer interest into increased sales. In this regard we all need to act like realtors – people might not end up buying the house they initially contacted you to see, but it’s a great opportunity for you to start a conversation, understand their needs better and potentially close a sale that does really work for them.