T-Mobile USA is giving its retail stores a makeover, as it tries to attract new customers and retain old ones. But even with a new look on the retail side, T-Mobile faces many challenges.
The carrier on Thursday said it is redesigning some 400 stores across the country to look more like stores that its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, has launched in Europe, in an attempt to "provide the ultimate customer experience." Specifically, the company has added hardwood floors, and it has made its layout more open, with items clustered together to make shopping easier.
The company is already showing off the new design in two pilot locations, in Seattle and New York.
"With the continued complexity of wireless choices, T-Mobile is always looking to help simplify the consumer retail experience and make it more personal for each customer," Debra Coates, senior director of store development at T-Mobile USA, said in a statement. "While we've continually been honored for our customer service, we have found ways to make the shopping experience even better with this new design."
T-Mobile's new redesign is a clear sign that the company is not giving up in the competitive wireless market, even though, as the fourth-largest wireless operator in the United States, it has been struggling to retain customers. Earlier this year, AT&T offered to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion. But thein an effort to stop the merger.
Now it looks likely that T-Mobile will forge ahead on its own in a market that is increasingly becoming more concentrated by the two biggest players: AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Unfortunately, for T-Mobile it's about to be hit with another major blow, as the new Apple iPhone is expected to hit the market next month. AT&T and Verizon Wireless will be offering the new device. And Sprint Nextel is also likely to sell a version of the device for the first time. But T-Mobile will be left out of the iPhone craze.
There were rumors that T-Mobile might get its own version of the iPhone this fall. But all hope for a T-Mobile iPhone was dashed earlier this week, when T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman posted a letter to customers on the company's blog, saying that, but instead, the company will be focusing on Android phones.
This is a problem for T-Mobile, since historically, wireless operators that don't get the iPhone tend to face whatonce called "iPhone trauma." Customers tend to flee other operators for the iPhone during the months following a new iPhone release.
There are already indications that there is a lot of pent-up demand for this next version of the iPhone. A recent survey by UBS Research suggests thatto the iPhone when it comes out.
So the bottom line here is that, even with fancy new retail stores, T-Mobile will still have an uphill battle to fully satisfy customers.