As you know, 2018 was a transformative year for Saudi Arabia, but what you might not know is how 19 December in particular, was a game-changer. That was the day, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), encouraged its clients to totally forget its stores existed. It closed all 220 branches across 118 cities in the Kingdom’s 2.1 million square kilometers of territory.
No warning. No prior notice. Instead STC went to its clients. By redirecting people to its suite of digital self-service channels – MySTC app, MySTC Shop, MySTC 900 - the telco demonstrated its pivotal role in spearheading the digital revolution in Saudi Arabia and moving the country into the future.
How did the company justify such a bold move?
STC had been offering digital alternatives for a while, yet clients still chose to complete their transactions in the traditional way at a branch. With STC ripping off the band aid, people had no choice but to overcome their skepticism and adapt. New technologies were now finding new fans in Saudi Arabia and overnight, behaviour shifted. According to a press statement, sales rose by 500% on the MySTC app; sales rose by 86% on digital channel; MySTC’s store sign-up increased by 13%; digital transactions increased by 12%; In 24 hours, #STCclosingitsstores generated 20 million social impressions and was Saudi Arabia’s number one trending topic on Twitter, and second in the world; Google Play data recorded a 14% increase in weekly active users of MySTC app which was sustained well after the activation; Google search data demonstrated "My STC" keyword grew by 24% in the 3 weeks following the store closures; Google search data also chronicled a sudden increase in specific keywords such as "esales" and "900 stc"
But perhaps the most notable outcome was seeing STC act as an impetus to move the nation’s digital transformation forward into uncharted territories.
The results – which are now in – are really great, and demonstrate how much Saudis engaged with the idea when their habitual channel was removed for a while.