Phones 4U chief executive Tim Whiting considers the trends in consumer retail in the year ahead, and how the industry is positioned to weather the continuing economic storm
“The UK consumer environment will be very tough in 2011. Customers will be even more demanding with their disposable income and it will be harder for businesses to differentiate themselves.
“However, we are fortunate as we sit in one of the most inspiring and engaging supply chains. Consumers see mobile devices at an intersection of technology and fashion, and we will continue to be close to the top of discretionary spend in a shrinking pot of disposable income.
“2010 was the year when mobile phones made the transition to mobile computers. Almost all contract phones will be smartphones by the end of 2011 and they will continue to trickle down to the value chain.
“Competition between handset manufacturers will increase the pace of innovation in the retail space and result in further hardware and operating system innovation, including HD, 3D and tablets. This will ensure great choice and value for consumers when buying these products.
“The social media boom will persist in having a significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions. Social media capabilities on mobile devices will drive peer recommendation and consumer choice, and this will fundamentally change the way we as an industry need to engage with our customers in 2011.
“If we are going to keep up with consumers’ data demands, investment in the network infrastructure is essential.
“To enable a return on this investment, the industry will have to find an acceptable way to monetize data. Customers will have increasing demands on speed and reliability and this will be the key way networks can differentiate in their minute and data packages.
“Otherwise, there will be increasing pressure on evolving the customer relationship management model to drive additional lifetime value from customers on their bases.”