Sprint drops Target as a retail sales channel

Sprint will no longer sell its wireless service in Target stores nationwide. A spokeswoman for Sprint said that while Target has been a “great sales partner” the operator has decided to stop selling its services in the 1,500 Target stores nationwide and will instead work with customers through its company owned and dealer owned stores as well as other retail outlets such as Walmart, Walgreens and Best Buy.

Market analysis company Wave7 Research was the first to notice the change. According to Jeff Moore, analyst with Wave7 Research, Sprint sales at Target were very slow, and the operator likely made the move because Target wasn’t a very profitable sales channel.

Sprint has been shifting its retail strategy lately. Last November Sprint executive chairman and former CEO Marcelo Claure announced on Twitter that the company was expanding into 700 more Walmart stores nationwide, bringing its total presence in Walmart to about 1,400 stores. The operator has been experimenting with more retail channels after its co-branding relationship with RadioShack fell apart. RadioShack first filed for bankruptcy in 2015 when General Wireless acquired the firm and then again in 2017, which led to many of its 1,500 stores being closed. The demise of RadioShack led to Sprint having the fewest number of retail outlets of any operator in the U.S.

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Sprint’s exit from Target will likely be a win for other wireless providers that use Target as a sales channel. For example, Moore said that Consumer Cellular, a reseller that targets the aging population with inexpensive and easy-to-use devices, is having a lot of success with Target. “It’s a marriage made in heaven,” Moore said. “Older people come into Target and they are not that knowledgeable about smartphones. Target’s retail sales people can help them get up and running.”

Consumer Cellular is one of the largest mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in the U.S. The company says it has about 3 million customers. It’s underlying or “host” network is AT&T.

In addition to its smartphone services, Consumer Cellular also has been selling a $200 GrandPad at Target stores. GrandPad is a customized tablet designed for seniors that can help them stay connected to their families. It has simplified Internet access and runs on Android. Moore said that his company’s sales checks indicate that Consumer Cellular is seeing an increase in sales of the tablets from selling about one tablet per store to about three or four tablets per store.