The location inside of the 99 Ranch Market, akin to the size of an in-store branch bank, represents Reliant "proving out" its retail model, after testing a physical presence in a more limited role with a number of partners over the past year.
Such earlier endeavors included kiosks at Comcast and other cable providers' retail storefronts, and a physical presence at certain wireless dealers. Reliant is also among the retail suppliers with which Best Buy has partnered for Best Buy's home energy department, with Reliant having a presence in Best Buy's Willowbrook store in Houston.
The 99 Ranch Market location, however, represents Reliant's first dedicated retail location where Reliant is the leaseholder and designed the space. At Reliant's invitation, Comcast also has a presence in the Reliant 99 Ranch Market storefront, building on an existing cross-selling relationship.
Reliant conducted a soft launch of the 99 Ranch Market retail sotrefront in April, following with an official launch in the past month.
Smith reported that Reliant has seen enrollment expectations meet and exceed the targeted levels needed to justify the investment.
Smith also touted the "immediate focus group" that a physical retail location provides, from customer questions and feedback, providing Reliant with a "pulse" on existing and potential customers.
Reliant's 99 Ranch Market location offers both sales and enrollment opportunities and customer service, including bill payment options and agents who can answer bill and service-related questions.
Reliant offers its full suite of products through the location. It initially rolled out with its commodity offerings and less tangible value-add services (such as home warranty products), but it is rolling out its e-Sense smart energy products at the store as well, which provide a more tangible shopping experience through an example of an in-home energy monitor and sample of the usage information emails provided to e-Sense customers.
Reliant is actively evaluating the next marketplace for retail energy, Smith said, and that includes looking at opening more physical locations. In particular, Reliant is focused on developing a physical retail strategy tailored to the Hispanic community.
Smith also said that physical retail locations are seen as a channel to promote Reliant's prepaid offerings.