New gadgets such as the Oculus Rift have made their way into Utopia’s store, and with a new website the PCR Award-winner is seeing results. Jade Burke speaks to director Craig Hume…
How and when did the business begin?
We are around 20 years old, and it was my dad who set up the business. Back then eBay and Amazon were just starting, and there were more people looking for a bit of IT support, so he started supporting people around their houses. And then it grew from there. He has retired now, but we’re trying to carry on his legacy in whatever way we can.
What products and services do you offer in store?
I would say we are a traditional bricks and mortar store. We do PC repairs, laptop repairs, component sales, as well as printers and the like. We also do custom built desktops and laptops, which is what we’re best known for these days. When you come into our store it’s a little bit different from other computer stores, and we try to stock some of the harder to get hold of equipment like the Oculus Rift. We tend to try and give customers something that they can’t get elsewhere.
You recently announced the launch of your new website, stating you’re the only PC builder with a truly mobile-friendly website. Have you noticed an increase in traffic online since?
The most important thing we could see before we implemented the site, was that people were using mobile phones and tablets to visit the website. We could see that they were spending three or four minutes on average on the site. We’ve doubled the amount of time that they now spend browsing the website.
You’re known for your gaming PCs, but you unveiled the Sonox Workstation earlier this year. How has that been selling?
The workstations have been a good success especially considering that we didn’t have any formal workstation systems before. We’re managing to attract customers from some pretty interesting places so it has been good.
I think there’s big potential in the workstation market that’s untapped right now, and we would like to do more with it. We can offer so many more customisation options and something that is unique, as well as a personal service that we’re well known for that is harder to get from the likes of IBM and Fujitsu.
Analysts have reported that PC shipments are in decline. Have you seen this at all at Utopia?
We’re fortunate, because of products such as the Sonox Workstation our sales are up. Possibly people are holding off for Windows 10 to see what’s happening with that. But, I think it’s important for system builders to continue to innovate and bring out new products and entice people in.
What do you think the next big thing in tech will be?
It has to be Windows 10, it’s going to be a massive change for the industry especially with the free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. I think there’s a good potential there for independents to make some money off that.
There’s a service add-on, to make sure people who are unhappy with Windows 8 (or possibly looking to upgrade from Windows 7) get a smooth experience, and everything gets moved over to the new OS for them.
How important are industry events like PCR Boot Camp to you?
I think speaking to other people who are in the same industry as you is completely priceless. I think when you step back from your business you can look at it from afar, and get to see where the room for improvement is.
What are your plans for the future?
From a local point of view, we’re doing more B2B work. So we’ve started doing remote support and different managed services for local businesses. But from a national point of view, we want to continue to see our own brand of desktops and laptops thrive. And the focus for large expansion is definitely on the system builder side of things.
Year established: 1995
Number of outlets: 1
Number of staff: 9
Contact name and address: Utopia Computers Limited 29-31 High Glencairn Street. Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, KA1 4AE
Telephone: 01563 574280