Spark to take ownership of all 26 retail stores

Spark has revealed plans to take ownership of all 26 Spark consumer stores from dealer partners, saying the move will enable it to showcase its digital experience offerings in an interactive retail environment.

The 26 stores are presently managed by dealer partners Leading Edge and Orb and Spark says it expects to have taken ownership of all of them by late 2017.

According to Leading Edge’s web site it owns and operates seven consumer-focused Spark retail stores in New Zealand and is Spark’s prime support partner for an additional 12 independently-owned retail stores. It also owns seven Spark Business Hubs and provides prime support to an additional three independently owned Business Hubs. Orb’s web site was down at the time of writing.

Spark GM of customer channels, Grant McBeath, said bringing the stores back to direct Spark ownership would enable the company to create consistent experiences for customers.

“They will have access to the same processes and options, no matter which store they visit, or whether they’re trying to do something online or in person,” he said.

“Ultimately, we want to offer seamless experiences across all our channels, with the option to shift easily between digital and human interactions, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

“We are also passionate about giving both potential and existing customers the experience of what being with Spark is like. Stores give us that opportunity, from showcasing the experience of using the Spark App, to introducing Spotify music streaming, Lightbox and Netflix content, to giving customers access to our awesome Spark customer service.”

He said a resurgence of high street shopping had triggered the move. “A few years back, analysts were gloomily predicting the ‘death of the high street’. However, while e-commerce and online channels are becoming a fundamental way that businesses reach their customers, we’re seeing a resurgence in the importance of physical locations to complement the digital experiences that businesses provide.

“While many customers are choosing to buy online, the option to visit a physical location to ‘click and collect’, exchange or return items, or simply get the opportunity to touch and feel a new device prior to purchase is increasingly seen as an attractive choice. … We believe that stores are a key part of the community, especially in smaller towns around New Zealand. We know many of our customers love to visit our stores, to check out the latest deals, shop for a new device or simply have a chat about their Spark services.”

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