Complex pricing in telecommunications | Acro Media
Mike Hubbard


Mike Hubbard

, Front End Lead, Developer

Posted in Software & Development

December 3, 2020

Complex pricing in telecommunications

Find out how Acro Media is building technology solutions that integrate intricate telecom systems and make it so that complex pricing can remain simple for the customer during online transactions.

In Canada, the telecommunications industry is highly competitive. Nearly three-quarters of Canadians own smartphones, but there are just a few companies competing for the business of these 30 million people. There are three leading telecom companies in Canada:
  • Rogers Communications (Rogers Wireless, Fido, Chatr)
  • Telus Communications (Telus Mobility, Koodo, Public Mobile)
  • BCE Inc. (Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile Canada, Lucky Mobile)
These companies control just about 90% of the country’s telecom business, with each company serving more than 8 million subscribers. The next most prominent mobile companies in Canada – Shaw and Videotron – currently provide just over 1.1 million and 800 thousand subscriptions, respectively.” - Most popular Canadian telecommunication companies in 2020

When the products are essentially the same across the board, it creates a level playing field. So how does a telecom giant differentiate itself?

In this post, I’ll detail how Telus Mobility chose to focus on its technology and how it sold its products to gain a competitive edge. Customers didn’t just want to buy a phone online, they wanted to manage and dictate the purchase of their unique plans, product bundles, & special offers. Typical ecommerce product and catalogue layouts don’t provide handling for such complex pricing requirements, so Telus Mobility had to invent their own solution.

However, the solution they used wasn’t built from the ground up. They started with an adaptable commerce platform with the ability to integrate directly into various existing data systems within the Telus ecosystem. The platform they chose also allowed them to build out the complex pricing system that they needed while seamlessly providing a front-end user experience that was personalized, streamlined, and easy to use for customers.

A typical telecom customer journey

Telco customer journeys are complex! This isn’t an industry where users simply add products to their cart and complete checkout. Customers visiting a telco online store to buy a phone may also need a plan. If they do, do they also want to bundle other services such as the internet and tv? Or do they need phones and a plan for their entire family? Maybe they qualify for a certain promotion because of their account history. Maybe the phone they selected has an available 3rd party warranty (i.e. AppleCare) that can be part of the package. Many youths are buying phones, so a new customer may be subject to a background credit check. As you can see, the customer journey associated with pricing is pretty intense.

And with this kind of complexity, you can’t just lay it all out on one page. There are just too many possibilities, not to mention the incredibly difficult user experience that would bring. This type of customer journey needs to be broken down into bite-sized chunks that are logical and predictable.

Here’s what a typical customer journey for Telus Mobility looks like right now.

Step 1 - Customer arrives on site

Customer arrives on site

GeoIP puts them into a localized region automatically

Step 2 - Browse phones or plan

Browse phones or plan

  • Customer shown options & customizations available in their region
  • Customer makes a selection
Step 3 - New or returning customer

New or returning customer

Customer logs in or continues without an account

Step 4 - Customer builds their order

Customer builds their order

  • Pricing based on account history
  • Promotions & offers based on account history
  • Plan upgrades & modifications based on new or current plan
  • Financing options available — no money down, pre-paid, etc.
  • Warranty options available — no warranty, AppleCare, etc.
Step 5 - Order summary

Order summary

Customer can apply additional promotion & coupon codes

Step 6 - Order added to the cart

Order added to the cart

  • Customer shown additional account promotions — add a family line, add a family member, etc.
  • Continue to checkout
Step 7 - Checkout flow

Checkout flow

  • Existing customer account information pre-fills form data
  • New customers enter their account information & select a phone number
Step 8 - Automated credit check and payment

Automated credit check and payment

The information provided is submitted for an automated credit check.

  • If this check comes back negative, the customer is prompted to talk to a representative in-store
  • If successful, the customer submits payment information. The order & payment are validated and the order is completed
Step 9 - Order fulfillment

Order fulfillment

  • Completed orders are submitted to the fulfillment center
  • Customer is shown up-to-date order status within their account

That outline was as simple as I could make it and there is so much more that could happen. If you can imagine yourself going through that customer journey, now think of what all is happening in the system behind the scenes. 

Throughout every step of the customer journey, service calls are made. Service calls push and pull information from one or more integrated platforms via APIs. The list of currently available products and plans might all be held in one integrated product management platform, the customer’s account information in another, marketing and promotions in another, fulfillment in another, and so on. They all work together behind the scenes to provide the right information at the right time. For the customer, just interact with the system and expect it to work. For the company, complex systems must work together to make the business possible and provide a hassle-free experience that customers enjoy. 

How Acro Media creates complex pricing solutions

Different companies will take different approaches, but what we find works is to first go through an intensive discovery and strategy phase. Here we get together with stakeholders and product owners to uncover all of the nuances and technologies that are in play. We map it all out and make it easily digestible so that we can come up with a plan to move forward where everyone is on the same page.

Below are examples of the type of documentation that can come out of this phase:

Example technical architecture from Acro Media

Technical architecture - example

Example checkout data map from Acro Media as seen in  What to Know When Comparing Ecomm Platform Capabilities 

Data Map - Example

This may look like Greek to you right now, but to the people involved, this type of documentation provides a foundation of knowledge that is easily understood. From stakeholders to developers, it makes complex systems less complex. Think about it this way, to build a corporate skyscraper you first need to construct a solid foundation to put it on. Discovery and strategy is that foundation, the system you build with it is the skyscraper.

Continuous innovation and improvement

Beyond the discovery and strategy phase, Acro Media's ecommerce software consultants work with you, bringing telecommunications subject matter experts to optimize digital business for scalable growth and continuous innovation. Discovery & strategy morph into detailed planning and development of a pilot or MVP project where the focus is speed-to-market and agility. From there, we settle into our Agile development process, continuing to move quickly in 2 or 3-week development cycles. Our process helps your teams realize scalable growth and continuous improvements.

With a deep understanding of the pains and competitive pressures that our telecommunications partners face inside and outside of their organizations, Acro Media has developed a proven methodology of continuous innovation for telcos that increases speed to market, resulting in increased product margins, sales volumes and overall market share.

Let us customize that continuous innovation methodology around your business needs and show you how this proven method will get your solution to market, fast. Contact our Telecommunications solution architects and subject matter experts today.

Telcos need specialized tech solutions, fast. Find out how we help.