Retail Bears the Fruits of Innovation

Smart home and voice activation driving renewed consumer interest in technology

According to Steve Ager, Chief Commercial Officer at UK-based retailer Dixons Carphone, technology is improving to meet increasing customer expectations. The Dixon’s head told IFA International about the most prominent current trends in the UK market, and how it’s vital for the retailer to provide an end-to-end service.

In terms of product trends, we’re particularly excited about smart home. Voice activation has really kickstarted the sales of other smart products – for example when the Amazon Echo launched, we saw growth in smart lighting, like Philips Hue, and then smart security. Customers increasingly want to know more about the smart home so we’re moving these products to the front of our stores and ensuring we have great service propositions around them.
Selling the benefits of new technology and more premium products is also really important, and we’ve seen fantastic growth in drones and gaming over the past few months, both conventional and virtual reality.

What are your main development sectors? 

For a number of years, price has been the key factor, and we continue to be focused on ensuring that every one of our customers has access to great products within their price range. The next development for us in this space is around ways to pay, again for that added customer convenience and greater flexibility as we’re seeing customers increasingly buying on credit using our Your Plan finance scheme.
But it’s no longer enough to simply offer great products at a great price. Currently we have largely transactional relationships with our customers, and moving forwards we want to develop these into lifetime relationships. So building on this relentless focus on price, our multi-channel offering and leading scale and service, we have just launched Team Knowhow, our new Services brand. Team Knowhow provides customers with a one-stop-shop for tech support, from setting up and connecting products, to upgrading, protecting and fixing them with speedy repairs when something goes wrong. So we are very focused on how we can add value through these services and deliver a great experience for our customers.

What are, according to you, the products to watch out for and what are you hoping to find at IFA? 

IFA is a great event, and it’s always important to go with an open mind. The technological innovation revealed each year is incredibly diverse and continues to exceed our expectations.
We’re always on the lookout for developments that make our customers’ lives easier and more convenient. With the dramatic growth in connected home products over the past couple of years, we’re particularly excited to see any new and exciting innovations in this space and seeing how our suppliers are developing and integrating these gadgets.


Why is it important for manufacturers to help you with staff training? 

When deciding which product to buy, we still see a pattern whereby 90% of our customers complete part of their journey in one of our stores, and part of their journey online. For so many customers these are really important purchases, so they want to touch, feel and have the product demonstrated before making their decision. Our sales colleagues represent our manufacturers’ brands every time they engage with a customer, so it’s crucial that they have the latest training and education to not only represent the brand, but provide the best advice to ensure customers leave with the right product for them.

Photo: Steve Ager, Chief Commercial Officer, UK-based retailer Dixons Carphone