September 22, 2004

Telecomm Kiosks

Sprint, RadioShack set new mall strategy

Sprint Corp. said Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with RadioShack Corp. to open 500 kiosks in shopping malls across the country.

The kiosks, which will be rolled out over the next three years, will be run by RadioShack and staffed with RadioShack employees, but operated under the Sprint brand. They will sell Sprint and Virgin Mobile wireless products and other Sprint services.

The Virgin Mobile prepaid wireless service aims for the youth market and operates on Sprint's network.

Sprint officials said the new retail strategy would expose Sprint's services to a greater number of customers.

The Overland Park telephone company's services already are sold in RadioShack retail stores, many of which are in malls where kiosks will be installed. But the kiosks will reach customers who might not walk into a RadioShack store, officials said.

We felt like we may not be capitalizing on all the traffic, said John Garcia, senior vice president for sales and distribution in Sprint's consumer division.

The companies said they would open 90 kiosks by next spring in malls in Texas, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Washington and California. Kansas City area malls will not be included in the initial rollout.

The companies have been testing the kiosks in 10 malls across the country for about six months. Garcia said the test kiosks did not appear to cannibalize customers from RadioShack's existing stores.

As wireless services become more complicated, customers want to be able to talk to a salesperson and ask questions, Garcia said.

Even experienced users want to have a salesperson explain things to them, he said. What we're seeing in the selling of wireless is that the consultative sale is becoming more and more important.

Sprint also is opening more of its own retail stores. This year, the company expects to open 200 additional Sprint stores, bringing to 800 the number across the country.

Sprint services are sold in 6,500 RadioShack stores, Garcia said. RadioShack also sells Verizon Wireless products in its retail stores.

Sprint's stock closed Tuesday at $20.20, up 9 cents.

Posted by Craig at September 22, 2004 08:48 PM