The state we’re in

As the industry awaits a decision about the proposed £4 bn Carphone Warehouse/Dixons merger, which would effectively see one retailer gain a monopoly in the market, it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on the state of the electrical retailing industry.

Expenditure in the electronics industry is set to increase in 2014. Last week saw Vodafone announce that it is to create 1,400 jobs across the UK by opening 150 stores in 2014, an impressive feat against a challenging economic backdrop.

This is in sharp contrast to developments on London’s Tottenham Court Road, once regarded as the place to go for any kind of electronics, where we’re seeing so many major brand stores closing their doors.

Did these brands put enough into offering every customer the best possible shopping experience? It could be argued that for these retailers the importance of creating an appealing shopping experience was forgotten.

Developments on Tottenham Court Road highlight the importance of treating every consumer that enters a store as a potential customer.

This especially hits home when the costs involved in marketing campaigns to attract that potential customer are considered, along with the major overheads needed to keep stores open.

According to research commissioned by Gekko earlier this year, 53 per cent of UK consumers regard electronics as investment purchases, with almost 20 per cent buying electronic products due to brand status.

The research also found that 53 per cent of UK shoppers do their research online before making a purchase in-store.

With so many consumers dedicating time to online research, it’s vital that retail brands provide an appealing digital experience and keep their website serviced with the most up-to-date information about their products.

The research also found that for high-ticket electrical items, 53 per cent of consumers want to touch, feel and experience the product to ensure that they are getting value for money in their purchase.

In order to attract shoppers to their stores, retailers must ensure that the in-store experience runs seamlessly alongside the shopping experience online.

When consumers walk through the door, the branding, feel and format of the store must feel familiar to the consumer.

A positive consumer experience helps to drive the value for money criteria by making consumers feel special, added to by attentive staff that aren’t pushy, but know how to sell based on the needs of the customer.

The shop floor must be ready for different shoppers, for whom value means different things. Understanding the shopper will help to open up the right channels engagement for the brand.

Every major electrical brand out there wants to appeal to the broadest demographic possible, and most businesses will spend vast sums of money in order to achieve this goal.

However, when a brand is sold through a third party retailer, the brand has less control, and this is where the vital role of field marketers comes to the fore.

It’s crucial for electrical goods retailers to have brand ambassadors in third party stores who understand their brand, how to achieve the connection sale and are equipped with the knowledge and training to provide impartial and factual advice about the benefits of their products.

This human element is vital; it is the reason many customers will visit the stores, to have a two-way conversation with an expert and receive guidance in making a decision is key to driving sales.

Field marketing plays an important element in making the customer journey more controlled and profitable for brands.

With all of the closures on Tottenham Court Road, it’s easy to assume that while still being sold via a third party store, brands had a lot of control over the customer journey.

The importance of an appealing brand and shopping experience which engages the consumer both online and offline cannot be underestimated.


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