It won’t get there quite as quickly as a pizza, but a new service from Rogers Communications will let Canadians order a new cellphone online and have it delivered within hours.
And no, it won’t be like the cable guy promising to show up “between 1 and 5,” only to arrive at 6:30.
At least that’s what Brent Johnston, president of Rogers Wireless is promising with the new “Pro-on-the-Go” service, which launches in the Greater Toronto Area later this month, then rolls out to other major cities across Canada next year. The delivery comes with an in-person service call by an expert who will make sure all your apps and files are transferred to the new phone, and everything’s running smoothly.
“This is centred on the customer’s needs and schedule,” said Johnston in an exclusive interview with the Star ahead of the launch. “When you order the phone, you’ll let us know the time and the place which suits you, and you’ll get a two-hour window. Then when they’re getting close, they’ll let you know exactly when they’re showing up.”
The Pro-on-the-Go service will be provided by third-party provider led Enjoy, the brainchild of former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson, who likens the four-year-old company to a mobile version of a retail experience he used to be responsible for.
“This isn’t just a delivery service. It’s kind of like Uber combined with the Apple store. We spend as much time with you as you need,” said Johnson.
In Canada, his firm will only be partnering with Rogers. In the U.S., it’s working with AT&T and Google. It also has customers across the U.K.
There won’t be any extra charges for the service, which is the same way Enjoy operates in other markets.
“It’s free everywhere we operate. No one charges you a ticket price to go into a store. This is the next generation of retail experience,” said Johnson.
Because the new service won’t be paid for directly by customers, it could cut into the communications giant’s profit margins. However, it’s worth it if it means hanging onto customers in a highly competitive environment, says retail analyst Lisa Hutcheson.
“At the end of the day, telecom companies are all providing the same phones, and very similar types of phone service. They need to find a way to differentiate themselves on customer service, or it all just becomes about price,” said Hutcheson, managing partner at retail consultancy J.C. Williams. “How do you maintain market share?”
Hutcheson, who expects the service to be emulated by some of Rogers’ competitors, likes the idea of shortening the delivery time for online orders while adding the expertise you’d find in a bricks-and-mortar store.
“People are busy and time-starved. They’re listening to their customers about what their pain points are, and addressing them,” Hutcheson said.
Potential competitors looking to emulate the new service will have a hard time, argued Enjoy’s Johnson.
“This isn’t easy to replicate. There’s not a single company doing what we do. We won’t just have inventory of the phones in stock. We’ll have inventory of other things they might want to have. And finding great employees is always hard,” said Johnson, who stressed that all Pro-on-the-Go staff will be full-time employees with benefits, rather than contractors.
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Don’t expect Rogers stores to start disappearing because of the new offering, however. Retail outlets will still play an important role, Rogers’ Johnston said.
“The mall still has a value proposition. People come in an have three or four things they’re going to do. There’s a convenience factor to our mall stores,” said Johnston, who added that the vast majority of people shopping for new phones do it online.
“Well over 80 per cent of our customers start the journey digitally,” Johnston said.