Three Ireland bets on return to in-person shopping with €27m investment

5 Aug 2021

Elaine Carey. Image: Three Ireland

The company is preparing to welcome customers back to its stores with a focus on the in-person shopping experience.

Three Ireland is investing €27m in its 60 stores across the country in an attempt to bring customers back into shops and complement its online offering.

Shoppers visiting the revamped stores will be able to ask Three experts for advice and access more than 100 “curated” products aimed at meeting Irish shoppers’ needs. Products such as music tables, robot hoovers and smart gardens will be available in stores.

The mobile operator also intends for the stores to be largely cashless.

Elaine Carey, COO of Three Ireland and UK, said that the investment marks a fundamental shift in the company’s strategy as it aims to become a “connected lifestyle brand”.

“For consumers this will dramatically change perceptions of retail, providing for the first time an offering that is curated to consumers personal tastes with expert advice at its core. To ensure the customer experience is seamless across online and in-store, Three’s retail experts will undertake extensive training to allow them to provide in-depth guidance to consumers.”

Three is placing its bets on changing consumer preferences post-pandemic. Research carried out for the company by Foresight Factory showed that 60pc of respondents preferred in-person shopping to e-commerce.

More than half of all respondents and two-thirds of millennials said they are interested in services that provide surprise recommendations based on their lifestyle habits, while 72pc of 18 to 24-year-olds showed demand for in-person experiences.

Carey said that despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 to the high street, retail as a physical space is “incredibly vibrant”.

“Online shopping means consumers have access to so much choice, they are looking for help to find what best suits their needs. Over 50pc of consumers surveyed said they want recommendations from brands that are better tailored to them.”

The investment will see employees across Three’s 60 stores in Ireland undertake an intensive one-month training programme that will allow them to help customers across four themes: home, work, music and play.

Changes will begin to roll out from August at stores in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, with 13 revamped stores due to launch in 2021. The programme will continue to roll out until 2023, with more products to be added to the company’s offerings as the roll-out progresses.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic