"Take up has been greater than we expected," says retailer

Dixons predicts death of the box as digital software service shines

Being one of the first major retailers to enter the digital PC software downloads arena is starting to pay off, although the rise in sales may kill off boxed products, says Dixons.

The Currys and PC World websites first began selling digital software in July – one month ahead of Amazon – and sales have been higher than the retailer anticipated.

“Take up has been greater than we expected, share of sales has been greater than we expected, and it’s driven conversion,” Dixons Retail ecommerce director Jeremy Fennell told PCR at the 2013 Internet Retailing Conference.

“It’s driven sales as a result and has taken cost out of the operation, which we can then pass onto the customer in order to be more competitive and drive more traffic. So it drives all metrics.” 

When asked about what this means for the future of boxed software, Fennell replied: “I think there’s still a customer out there who wants to have the hard product, and in most cases today they can still get it. But I don’t doubt that there’s a future where they won’t be able to. 

“If we look at it over time, look at the fact that boxes are disappearing now, or becoming less and less of what customers are buying, there’s nothing to suggest that they won’t disappear. But I think that decision should be taken by the customer and the customer alone.” 

He added: “Hopefully [the lower overheads digital software gives to vendors and retailers] means the value gets passed on to the customer, so it’s more accessible to them. 

“For us at the moment it’s a driver of share, because it’s a differentiator and it’s a service that’s setting us apart.”

Dixons says it’s the first multi-channel retailer to offer software products from brands such as Microsoft, Adobe and McAfee as online downloads as well as boxed copies in-store.

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