Operator set to revamp stores in direct challenge to IT retailers while Micro-P offers free laptop deal to dealers

O2 and Micro-P prepare for IT-Telecom revolution

The IT and mobile channels took further steps towards convergence, after both O2 and Micro P unveiled moves aimed at strengthening their retail position in the fast changing market.

O2 unveiled its retail transformation programme, which it hopes will position it in better stead to face up to the increasing competition caused by collision of the IT and mobile industries.

In particular, the move will see O2 move away from being a mobile phone store to a connected solutions provider, one that it claims will "seamlessly link the worlds of the contemporary home and future technology".

The first part of this repositioning will be a multi-million pound revamp of its retail stores, with 150 set to be overhauled by the end of 2009. Part of this will see the introduction of live demonstrations of connected technologies, with the retailer stocking a variety of accessories including headphones, speakers and printers.

The scheme will also see the telecoms giant revamp its training scheme, with the firm doubling its training budget with the intention of introducing ‘O2 Gurus’, who will be rolled out in 25 stores before the end of the year.

The first store to undergo the refit was O2’s Manchester Arndale centre store.

Meanwhile, IT distributor Micro-P has become the first to offer its retail clients entry into the ‘free’ laptop market, after it signed a deal with mobile operator 3 and vendor Samsung.

According to research by the distributor, around 80,000 laptops broadband deals are sold each month, and the deal, which will see the firm handle the logistics, is seen by it as the ideal way for independent retailers and smaller chains to get into the market.

Micro-P’s new business development director said that it was about time retailers and resellers were able to offer the same deals as the likes of DSGi, Phones4u and CPW.

"IT retailers and system builders have missed the boat for various reasons," Woodman told CRN. "They do not have the relationships with the operators, they are not familiar with signing people up to contracts with clawback schemes, and retailers have been expected to give away laptops."

The firm said that it will be initially offering only consumer deals, but that by the end of December it was also hoping to offer B2B offers.

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