Sprint on Tuesday showed the first card in its play to boost retail distribution, announcing the launch of new “Sprint Express” locations in three major Florida cities.
According to the carrier, Sprint Express stores will be temporary pop-up retail locations installed at grocery stores, concerts, and other special event locations. The model is designed to expand Sprint’s retail distribution footprint and better reach customers in their local communities, the carrier indicated.
Sprint said the first Sprint Express stores have been launched in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.
“We started this journey a year ago with the announcement of a new localized approach to bring us closer to consumers, businesses, and an experienced workforce here in Miami,” Claudio Hidalgo, Sprint’s president of the Florida, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands Region, commented. “Sprint’s new stores, jobs, and infrastructure investment not only underscores our desire to provide the best overall experience for our customers, but also our growing commitment to this region.
The latter mention of infrastructure is a reference to Sprint’s recent investments in the region. The carrier said it has upgraded more than 500 cell sites in the market to support 800 MHz, 2.5 GHz, LTE technology, HD Voice, and carrier aggregation. Sprint said it has also begun a “limited deployment” of small cells in South Florida in response to a massive increase in data demand. Sprint’s Regional Vice President for Network Mike Hennigan said data usage in Miami alone has increased more than 650 percent over the last five years.
The Sprint Express rollout in the area seems to be an attempt to capitalize on its network investment in targeted areas. But the move is also part of the carrier’s broader effort to optimize its retail distribution footprint.
Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati on the carrier’s recent earnings call indicated the changes come now that the carrier has hit the “right phase of our turnaround to reinvest a part of our gross expense reduction in 2017 back into growth platforms for the business, including retail distribution, network densification, digitalization of sales, and care and prepaid growth initiatives.”
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure also said on the call the carrier is working to expand its retail distribution to “lower the average cost per transaction, increase our brand presence, and better serve our customers.” That goal includes converting “several hundred” of the top-performing RadioShack stores to Sprint retail locations over the next few months in the wake of the former’s bankruptcy, and continuing to add more Sprint and Boost Mobile stores more generally. Additionally, Claure said the carrier plans to update its existing stores to be both more productive and more appealing.