Loblaw Aims To Be Canada’s Biggest Mobile Retailer

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 8, 2011

Retail distribution plays a key role in today’s intensely competitive wireless market. New entrants such as Mobilicity have established a strong distribution channel through strategic partnerships with Walmart, 7-Eleven Canada, HMV and Zellers. In September, Blockbuster Canada announced its plans to shut shop, leaving Wind Mobile’s retail strategy in a lurch.

Over the last couple of years, a number of supermarket chains have entered the mobile marketplace. In a recent announcement, Loblaw, Canada’s largest supermarket chain, stated its intent to be ‘Canada’s biggest mobile retailer‘ and announced plans to open more than 200 full-service Mobile shops within its stores by the end of 2012.

Most large retailers are busy lining up alternate revenue streams these days, so Loblaw’s announcement to expand its mobile portfolio is hardly surprising. Though the intent is to compensate for its relatively flat food sales, Loblaw’s will face tough competition from several retail rivals including Walmart, 7-Eleven and several prospects including the likes of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and Canadian Tire Corp.

Despite the intense competition, Loblaw remains optimistic about its plan to stock a broad range of products touted by knowledgeable staff. Currently, select Loblaw stores have self-serve mobile phone kiosks offering prepaid service. Loblaw’s Mobile Shop expansion will be done in two phases – it will roll out 100 telecom kiosks this year at its stores and setup the remaining next year. Loblaw’s Mobile Shop will sell smartphones, tablets and data plans on Bell, Rogers and Telus, as well as their subsidiary brands, Virgin, Fido and Koodo. In addition to postpaid offerings, the new Mobile Shops will also offer a selection of approximately 50 mobile devices and accessories.

Loblaw has already rolled out this service at select Loblaw stores in Ontario and it plans to quickly expand into British Columbia, Alberta and Atlantic Canada.

“The Mobile Shop will simplify the way Canadians shop for wireless devices,” said Maria Forlini, Senior Vice President, PC Services. “By offering our customers great choice, convenience and trusted, objective advice, we’re confident The Mobile Shop will provide consumers with the best wireless shopping experience in Canada.”

Interestingly, though Wind Mobile and Public Mobile prepaid plans are sold at select Loblaw Mobile Express kiosks, these seem to missing from the new full-service shops.

Loblaw plans to hire 400 new employees to staff the mobile shops this year, and another 400 next year. The company says it doesn’t have firm plans for Quebec yet.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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