It’s fair to say Australians are embracing digital technology like never before. We can order dinner or have a consultation with a GP wherever we are, and we’re pretty used to having virtual meetings from our phones.

It’s also becoming the predominant way our customers interact with us.

Two years ago, around 43 per cent of service transactions (things like checking your data or paying a bill) were made across our digital channels. Now that’s risen to more than 70 per cent.

And we expect that to continue as we’re recording almost five million transaction on our digital channels every month.

Growing this capability is part of our T22 strategy. But we know there’s still times when you prefer to get help face to face and that’s why our physical retail stores will continue to be a critical part of how we serve our customers.

Today when you enter your local Telstra store (and we have more than 300 across the country), you may not realise that some of our stores are owned by Telstra and some are operated under a licensee agreement.

This is a model that has served us and our customers well for many years, but the way customers shop with us and how they will interact with retail stores in the future is changing.

This is why today we’ve announced that it’s our intention to move to full Telstra ownership of all our retail branded stores.

This change means we will be able to deliver a more consistent offering no matter which store you visit.

It also gives us the flexibility to better serve you if things change quickly. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when we needed to close our stores and had major impacts to our contact centres internationally, our employees in Telstra owned stores were able to quickly pivot to assist customers online and on the phone.

Ideally, we would be able to do this across our entire retail branded store network should something like this happen again.

It gives us flexibility and means we can further embed our responsible business practices by having more direct engagement with employees.

We know how important the local Telstra store is for many people, particularly in remote and regional areas and our commitment to those customers doesn’t change.

It’s making sure we continue what our customers value, and that’s locals helping locals.

Our intention is to offer employment to a majority of current store team members where individual licensees agree a transition with Telstra, and that means you can expect to see the same familiar friendly faces when you’re visiting a Telstra store across our network from Bunbury to Ballarat.