VoIP.com, a Florida based pure play VoIP provider, announced the opening of its first retail store, in partnership with BabbleTone LLC. The store is really a kiosk, located in Broward Mall, a south Florida mall. VoIP.com and BabbleTone say that the kiosk opens up a human element for the sale and marketing of VoIP, which they claim has been missing. “We feel that the human element has been missing when marketing services such as VoIP. Personal interaction will open up new markets and opportunities,” says Lonnie L. Decker, CEO of BabbleTone LLC. VoIP.com and BabbleTone plan to monitor the success of the first kiosk before committing to additional outlets.
The retail strategy move comes at an interesting time for pure play VoIP providers. They are under pressure to prove their business model and face stiff competition from triple play providers, whose bundling strategies lessen the value proposition for pure play VoIP services. Retail is recognized as a promising channel for service providers, if executed well. Vonage has a long standing retail strategy through partners like Staples and Best Buy. Recent history suggests that voip.com and companies like them have a tough road ahead for long term prosperity. A retail strategy may provide some benefit, but will it be enough?