Carphone sets sights on IT market for airtime attack

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New online affiliate programme to help drive 30,000 new mobile connections this year 

Carphone Warehouse Business is set to launch a new online affiliate programme as part of major growth plans for the company this year.

The O2, EE and Vodafone partner has set ambitious internal targets to increase airtime connections from 120,000 in 2013 to 150,000 (organically) by the end of the year – a 25 per cent rise.

The new affiliate programme, which launches in July, is designed to give non-mobile specialists the ability to generate sales leads for Carphone Warehouse from customers visiting their own website.

Customers will be able to enter their details (name, contact number, connections required) via a clearly visible and dedicated Carphone Warehouse widget.

All leads will be contacted and managed by Carphone Warehouse, with dealers having full visibility of their progress. Resellers will earn up to 30 per cent of the profit for each successful connection.

CPW Business head of B2B Bob Sweetlove (pictured) labelled the IT channel – of which there are more than 9,000 resellers compared to sub- 1,000 mobile in the UK – as an “immense opportunity” to drive new business, as well as break down the “resistance” from the channel in becoming involved with the telecom market.

Resistance

“The majority of IT resellers have built their businesses around selling software and contracted services,” said Sweetlove. “Do they want to work out tariffs, shipping out handsets and holding stock? Our research and experience suggests no, so there is a resistance from that angle, but they will partner. That’s why we have developed an affiliate programme.

“It’s a win-win for them. We can give them the ability to capture a lead, pass it on to us and we’ll do all the work. We’ll complete the transaction, ship the phones, manage the mobile relationship and cut them in on the profits.”

He continued: “The Carphone brand lends itself well to a programme like this. Customers know who Carphone Warehouse are and that they won’t be partnering with some random company they’ve never heard of.”

Trials are currently being concluded with a select number of unnamed resellers, with a full rollout schduled for next month.

Acquisition move

Sweetlove insisted there are no specific targets or partner numbers in place at present – although he admits it must pay for itself.

He also revealed Carphone Warehouse Business is exploring opportunities around potential acquisitions with an aim of boosting skillset and customer numbers.

To date, Carphone has grown its business organically, adding new routes to market such as its franchise programme (launched last year – eight partners), direct sales via its CarphoneWarehouse.com website and now its affiliate model.

Sweetlove said the firm’s “eyes are open”, highlighting possible B2B dealers and rival distributors as potential targets.

“It’s a consolidating market,” said Sweetlove. “Do we want to be consolidated? Probably not. Do we want to be a consolidator? Possibly. If the right opportunity is out there, we will look at it. ”

Meanwhile, Carphone Warehouse rival Daisy Wholesale has also revealed ambitious targets of growing its dealer base by 150 per cent to more than 500 in the next 12 months.

The company, a division of telecoms provider Daisy Group, has grown its active monthly mobile resellers almost fivefold from 40 to nearly 200 over the past year.

Daisy Wholesale managing director Terry O’Brien said the firm will look to encourage its existing 1,200 base of IT, broadband, fixed line and data services resellers to move into mobile.

“I’d like to see us reach close to 500 active monthly resellers within the next year.

“We will talk to our community of partners about entering mobile and provide them with examples of the 200 that have embraced it. We have a reseller base of 1,200, so the opportunity is there.”

O’Brien said growth in dealer interest in working with Daisy can be largely attributed to its B2B SIM-only proposition, “The One & Only”, which launched to the channel in May 2013.

Running off the Vodafone network, it enables resellers to buy an unlimited calls and text tariff at a wholesale rate (£7.50) and sell at a margin decided by them. The tariff also includes dedicated mobile specialist support and a number of cost-saving roaming bolt-ons.

“Dealers have many things to consider: dozens of tariffs, revenue share and long-term contracts – if a customer doesn’t pay them, they still have to pay the network.

“Partners just want things kept simple, low-risk and an opportunity to make money, so ‘The One & Only’ is perfect for them.”

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