This article is part of our November 2018 series about the state of retail. Click here for more.
Formed through a merger in 2014, London-based Dixons Carphone operates a number of well-known consumer electronics and telecoms retailers throughout the U.K., Ireland, and the Nordics.
In 2015 the company combined some of its most popular UK brands, creating three-in-one stores that brought together Currys, PC World, and Carphone Warehouse.
Like many established retailers, the company’s challenge lies in creating a smooth journey between physical and digital experiences. Harry Sohal, Dixons Carphone product owner, is leading the drive to re-create the brand’s impeccable in-store experience on personal devices everywhere, while bridging the gap in between.
He took time out to tell us how he’s achieving this lofty goal, while revealing the emerging tech he thinks can help him continue on that journey.
CMO.com: Can you tell us about your role?
Sohal: My day-to-day job involves delivering functionality to our website and working with the business to translate their requirements and needs into a way that we can produce digital experiences on the site.
Being a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer and now moving into the digital sphere more and more, I think the experience we create is about how our brand makes the customer feel and how they engage with us. Not only do you have to delight the customer at every stage, you have to think about their retention. Once they’ve purchased the product from us, how do they then engage with the brand on an ongoing basis so that when it comes to their next purchase or their next mobile phone upgrade, we’re at the forefront of their mind as a brand?
It’s very, very important that we can engage with the customer in the digital sphere like we used to, or we still do, in stores and make sure that the service they received online is still world-class.
We need to cater to people researching online and purchasing offline, or going back and forth between both channels. No matter which brand they touch, no matter which product they’re looking to purchase, we need to understand where they’ve engaged with us, what information we have about them, and what they’re looking for so that we can better serve them and give them the deal that they’re looking for.
Long gone are the days where we are just moving boxes around for customers.
CMO.com: How do you go about creating the user experience that will keep customers coming back?
Sohal: They want to know that however they engage with us—whether it be via SMS, a customer service call, engaging with the live chat on our website, or going into a store to find the perfect deal—they want to be thrilled.
We have to step up and provide those experiences to customers to stay on the same level as competitors of ours are doing. We have to look at every single one of our touch points in the digital sphere of [our brands] Carphone and Currys PC World to see what it is that our customers are looking for.
Giving customers a personalised experience is now the norm. Everybody wants to know that they’re getting a special service, almost like VIP treatment, and not just being treated like every other customer.
CMO.com: How do you see your competitors using technology to create an impression with customers?
Sohal: I think our customers are used to having their minds blown by various Internet technologies, whether it be virtual reality or augmented reality. They’re used to pure-play companies providing the next step in technology, and that’s expected now.
When they come to Dixons Carphone, they want to see what it is we can offer, how we can explain our products, and what we do differently from the traditional method of a salesperson approaching them and going through the specs of a product.
CMO.com: How do you see Dixons Carphone rising to meet that challenge?
Sohal: Artificial intelligence, I think, will be critical; it will give us the next step in providing customers with the most personalised journey that we can provide. It’s very difficult to maintain that level of personalisation in the way that we do it now and reach so many customers with so many touch points.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence allow us to leverage and utilise the vast amount of information that we have about all of our customers. We can use that to see what they have purchased before and predict what they will want to buy next, analysing their wants and needs at every stage.