Three Ireland to invest €27m in revamp of retail outlets

Telecoms provider shifting retail focus to lifestyle products

Elaine Carey, chief commercial officer for Three Ireland.

Elaine Carey, chief commercial officer for Three Ireland.

 

Three Ireland is investing €27 million in revamping its stores around the country as the company shifts its retail focus to lifestyle products.

The telco will continue to sell handsets and mobile broadband in its 60 stores, but will also offer a curated selection of connected home, audio and lifestyle products to customers.

The funding will be used to transform Three stores to showcase the new products, which include everything from mesh networks to boost wifi and headphones to speaker tables, smart gardens and robot vacuums.

A new in-store information system will allow customers to find out more about products, shop online or request help from staff, who will undergo a four-week training programme to boost their knowledge of products to assist consumers.

“It’s expert, it’s curated, it’s a range of products in themes,” said Elaine Carey, chief commercial officer for Three Ireland. “You’ll walk out feeling a lot more comfortable.”

The stores are intended to be largely cash-free, but will facilitate payments from customers who want to pay in cash, particularly vulnerable customers. Although cash is legal tender, the Central Bank has previously said that if a shop specifies in advance of a transaction that it will only accept payment by a means other than cash, then “it is not legally obliged to accept settlement of the payment obligation in cash”.

The stores will initially be divided into four themes – home, work, music and play. More than 100 curated products will be available at launch online and in selected stores as the revamp takes effect.

Three shops have already been revamped – Henry Street in Dublin, Patrick Street, Cork and Parkway Shopping Centre, Limerick – with a further 10 due to launch before the end of the year.

“It’s time to move on, and more so than anything with Covid, the smartphone is the source of everything, all our life’s activity,” Ms Carey said. “It’s been a very competitive market and we now need to sell more products to our customers, but they have to be relevant.”

Customer panel

The company has a customer panel that was set up two years ago, with 100 consumers on tap to test products.

The shift in focus has been in the works for some time, with Three testing out the new environment and product range behind closed doors in a purpose-built shop in Patrick Street in Cork. It ended the trial in February last year, just before the Covid-19 shutdown in March 2020. The findings from that trial helped inform the new strategy.

Although more consumers have turned to online shopping during the pandemic, recent research carried out for Three Ireland by Foresight Factory revealed that more than 60 per cent of people still prefer shopping in person.

“Despite the incredible challenges Covid-19 has presented to the high street, retail as a physical space is incredibly vibrant. It became clear to us, based on our own research and customer feedback, that Irish consumers want a different experience,” Ms Carey said.