Matthew Jarvis chats to Eastgate Computers’ Matthew James about the retailer’s custom built computers, its recent growth in gaming and why limited editions are no longer limited…
How and when did the company begin?
The business was started in 2009 and we had a small shop offering PC repairs, as well as a small selection of computer parts and accessories. We also had an internet café.
How has the business evolved over the years?
We’ve increased our range of computer accessories and services over the years and two years ago we moved into a much busier location, so we now offer a full range of computers, parts and accessories. We’ve also recently moved into the game sector as well.
What’s been your biggest growth area recently?
Games. We decided last year that if we stay as just a computer shop we could get left behind, so since then we’ve started offering a larger range of new technology, and gaming is definitely a huge growth area for us.
Do you believe High Street retail chains could learn something from independents?
Customer service is always what the big retail chains seem to get wrong. It’s one of our biggest selling points and many customers keep coming back to us so we must be doing something right.
What’s been the biggest challenge your company has faced so far, or is currently facing?
The biggest challenge we have is that we are constantly up against other shops that offer dodgy repair services. For example, an upgrade to windows 8.1 that we would charge £115 for, they will charge £25, which is obviously illegal software, but they seem to get away with it.
The internet is also a constant battle with customers expecting us to be as cheap as online prices but we try and win them over with our customer service.
What do you have planned for the company over the next couple of years?
We are planning to keep our focus on technology related products and are looking into the possibilities of a second store. This would help us increase our overall range of products and allow us to expand our services to a larger area.
Do you belong to any partner programmes? If so, how have they helped you?
Yes, we do belong to some partner programmes but we find there are so many out there that it is difficult to keep up with them all. However, the ones that we do use have been paying us commission on renewals, and this is now starting to become a nice income for us.
How has the popularity for custom-built PC systems changed over the years?
We have always offered our own custom built computers and supplied many local businesses with them. We still seem to sell them as much as we ever have done and had a surge around the time that support ended for XP. Although this has died down a bit now, we are seeing an increase in demand for gaming computers as a lot of gamers want it built to the spec they want. This is something a chain store can’t offer in the way that we can.
Do you think that boxed PC games will die out completely in the future?
In the long term I think it will all be digital as broadband speeds have improved. It’s much easier and cheaper to not produce the physical stock, and you never actually run out of stock [with digital].
Are there any particular aspects of boxed products that your customers are interested in?
A small amount of customers want special editions, however they all seem to be only available with the bigger chains. Going back to my youth, it used to be the other way round. If you went to the big stores they never had the collectors editions and I had to hunt down a small independent store that had it hidden somewhere. It was more exciting that way.
Now, limited editions are mass produced and quite often too many are available, but only in the bigger retailers and chain stores. That means we can’t compete with them in this area.
Year established: 2009
Number of outlets: 1
Contact address: Eastgate Computers 7 Bell Walk Eastgate Shopping Centre Gloucester GL1 1XH,
Telephone: 01452 312347
Email: support@eastgatecomputers. co.uk