Buying Electronics – the UK Consumer Experience

I recently went into a ‘PC World’ store near my home to buy a tablet with my daughter. A simple thing you would think but after having perused the tablets on show, I had noticed this:

  • Several tablets on show, most running very old versions of Android even back to 4.4 (no one heard of dangerous to use!)
  • All of the tablets on show had not been upgraded to the latest firmware version available for the device
  • The signage of the tablets and their specifications did not match the devices
  • The signage of the tablets did not match the online information for the tablets

After discounting these errors and confirming the correct specifications for one of the Android tablets, I then asked the assistant whether they had the selected device in stock. A quick check showed that the store did not, and neither did any store within 40 miles. Helpfully the store assistant said that they could order one in for the next day, but we declined and visited a local Argos store where we had confirmed that they had stock and got our immediately fulfilment that had driven us to go to a store rather than buy online.

This is not an isolated experience with PC World (part of Dixons Carphone Warehouse) which is pretty much the only national electronics store chain left in the UK. It will not be long, based on this experience, for them to be totally gone as they do not offer any advantage that results in them getting the sale, over online stores or the seemingly better organised Argos chain, and the in store experience was awful.

This is a callout to the management of the Dixons Carphone Warehouse group that you really need to do better or the UK will be losing another retailer and I would not be blaming the online stores for this – I will only be blaming the operational management of Dixons Carphone Warehouse for driving the entire business into failure on a massive scale.

As someone said recently, online retailing is not the main factor behind high street failure – it is high street stores failing to provide good customer experience in their privileged position as being able to immediately meet the requirement for goods (but not actually doing it). They are driving people to buy online only.