We find out how the company began and what it has planned for the future

Store of the Month: The Computer Studio

Retail Manager Ben Barnett tells Laura Barnes about offering Bitcoin mining advice, the retailer’s plans to stock wearable tech and why PC World customers are requesting repairs.

How do you stand out from other stores in your area?
We’re the only High Street computer retailer in Crowborough. Others offer repairs but they work out of offices or industrial units.

Because we’ve been going for a long time and have a good reputation we get people coming in from places like Tunbridge Wells.

How and when did the company begin?
We were previously a training and consultancy company specialising in dictation and assisted technology for the disability sector, as well as the legal and medical professions.

Many customers were asking for hardware and software as well as training and, since we’re in a small town, many locals were coming to us for support – so we decided to open a dedicated computer retail and support store.

In 2008 we opened a second shop in East Grinstead.

How is your business split between sales and repairs?
When we started out it was just sales. But now a third of our turnover comes from repairs. We repair on site but also send technicians out on call. We have also started to get into business support.

Would you consider stocking or repairing wearable tech?
We’ve always looked at new technology. We’ve had a few customers asking about the Galaxy Gear, so that’s definitely something we’re going to look at stocking in the future. I think some of the wearable tech will be too intricate to repair, though.

How about 4K monitors?
We’ve had a couple of people ask about them. As prices go down I definitely think there will be a lot of demand.

What are the benefits of a brick and mortar store?
It’s the level of trust. If someone can come in and discuss a problem, it’s much easier to resolve in person as opposed to dealing with online retailers.

Do you sell products online?
We’re currently developing an e-commerce website. Once it’s complete our e-commerce system will be integrated with our till system to give us benefits like real-time stock level tracking.

Do you belong to a vender partner programme?
We’re an Epson express centre so we can do warranty repairs for them. We’re partners with Acer and HP and we’re also a premier partner with Nuance. We deal a lot with dictation machines so we work with Philips and Olympus too.

What are the main benefits of being a partner?
We get a lot of referrals, certainly with the Epson programme. A lot of people who have bought a printer from PC World or Amazon come to us for repairs. Once they’re here they realise what we do and that helps draw in a lot more business.

What’s in store for you in the near future?
We’re hoping to get the website online in the next couple of months. We’re also going to make a push into business storage solutions as well as the gaming market.

We get a lot of enquiries about dedicated gaming and Bitcoin mining machines – mainly on the best graphics cards and whether customer machines are suitable.

Fact File
Year established: 2003
Number of outlets: 2
Number of staff: 12
Contact address: Croft Road, Crowborough, TN6 1DL
Telephone: 01892 661116
Email: ben@thecomputerstudio.co.uk
Website: www.computer-studio.co.uk

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