British-based telecom retailer Vodafone will shutter 15% of its 7,700 stores and upgrade some of the remaining sites. The company will transform stores using data to understand what customers want in each location, with the goal of upgrading 40% of the total by the end of 2021. Approximately 5,000 Vodafone locations are in Europe, with the remainder in markets including Asia and Africa.
“If you believe that 40% of your transactions are going to be digital, then how does that impact why someone goes to a store? The journeys and the purpose of the store changes,” said Nick Read, Vodafone CEO, in a Reuters story. “(That) means that we will have more ‘experience’ stores (and) more convenience, and kiosk and click-to-collect stores.” Read added that Vodafone would use new technology, such as its AI-powered chatbot, to help customers buy products and services in just three clicks.
Despite the plans for widespread closures, Vodafone will continue to open new stores in Britain. In September the retailer announced plans to open 24 new franchise stores there this year, and it is examining the possibility of opening 50 more stores in 2020 in conjunction with new online service offerings.