Retail giant Woolworths is claiming to be the first in Australia to offer mobile phone services, announcing a new mobile virtual network operator agreement with Optus.
Woolworths will use the Optus mobile network to offer a pre-paid mobile service to consumers across Australia at its retail outlets under the Woolworths Everyday Mobile brand.
Everyday Mobile will be available at Woolworths and Safeway supermarkets and BIG W and Dick Smith department stores.
Customers will be able to recharge at those outlets and at participating Caltex Woolworths co-branded petrol stations in addition to Dan Murphy’s and BWS liquor stores.
Woolworths’ general manager of customer engagement, Richard Umbers, said the company’s retail stores already have “extensive experience” in the mobile phone sales and recharge markets.
“Our stores are already a destination for pre-paid mobile users. We also have a well established distribution network of more than 3000 stores throughout Australia,” Umbers said.
According to Woolworths, more than 21 million pre-paid mobile recharge transactions are processed through stores within the Woolworths Limited group each year.
Umbers said Everyday Mobile will provide “real value for money” to pre-paid mobile customers and Woolworths believes there is a “clear gap” in the market for a good value pre-paid mobile offer that is “simple and easy to understand”.
Big retailers Woolworths and Coles Myer have both attracted criticism for teaming up with petroleum companies to offer shopper docket discounts for fuel. Critics argue such alliances take business from smaller, independent gas stations thus reducing market competition.
Optus managing director of the company’s wholesale and satellite business, Vicki Brady, said the deal creates opportunities for both companies.
“Together Optus and Woolworths have developed a fantastic product,” Brady said. “Using Optus’ operational expertise, flexibility and the reach of the Optus mobile network combined with Woolworth’s distribution and retail footprint, the new prepaid mobile offering will be a strong addition to the market.”
Brady said Optus recognises the opportunities non-telcos can bring to the market.